There is nothing more powerful than a genuine heartfelt apology. At least, that’s what JCPenney is hoping based on a new ad the brand just released today featuring an apology to customers for recent changes and a promise to start listening more:
The ad is a marked departure from the Apple-style “we’ll tell you what you really want” strategy employed by former CEO (and longtime Apple exec) Ron Johnson (here’s my take on why that didn’t work). Will this rapid apology and departure from the past year’s rebranding of “JCP” work?
If recent history is any guide, it certainly can. People love a good fallen hero story. This arc is at the center of hundreds of dramatic films every year. The “hero in trouble” scene where someone walks through the rain completely alone before the problem is resolved is the ultimate cinematic cliche. But in business, redemption stories do work as well.
Culpa Marketing involves strategically using mistakes as an opportunity to rebuild trust by using a more human, direct and authentic style of communication to deliver a heartfelt apology and promise to make changes to solve the problem.
Consider these recent examples of Culpa Marketing at work:
JetBlue immediately responded to a PR crisis with a pilot who had a “medical situation” on board a flight by releasing information instantly, not hiding any facts and communicating as a real person might. Their lack of stonewalling help the crisis from escalating. It was a similar approach to the one the brand took in response to a controversy around stranded passengers back in 2007 that led the brand to issue it’s own Bill of Passenger Rights, and volunteer proactively to issue compensation retroactively for passengers who were inconvenienced.
Domino’s Pizza launched a campaign showing real focus group footage of customers’ criticizing their crust by calling it “cardboard” and complaining that their tomato sauce “tasted like ketchup.” Then the brand recreated their product from the ground up and launched a new ad campaign touting their new pizza. Over the past four years, the brand has delivered rapid growth and profit – and every recently started promoting that their newest pizza will have their delivery teams slowing down, just to make sure and get the quality right.
This is the new model of marketing and crisis response – where brands admit their own faults proactively and publicly. They run million dollar advertising campaigns proclaiming their apologies far and wide. And once that’s done, the foundation is laid. Opinions are ready to shift and large groups of consumers (apart from the haters) are ready to reconsider their brand opinions. They are ready to trust again … which is exactly where JCPenney hopes they will be.
Now all they need to do is actually change their experience into one that consumers will love again. You know … the “easy” part.
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The FDA might be accidentally brilliant. Every now and then for the past several years, that thought has crossed my mind. Without context, it may seem like a strange conclusion to make about any government agency. For anyone who was there in DC on November 12, 2009 when the FDA held their first public hearing on social media marketing - this…Read More >>
We often use the word “visionary” to describe leaders or companies, but rarely in connection to metrics. If the typical communications strategy is dispersed via Powerpoint within a large organization, usually measurement is the last slide before the end. We need to transform our relationship to measurement. The problem is, marketing people are typically guilty of seeing measurement as a…Read More >>
It is tempting to search for the next big thing. There were no shortage of journalists sent to SXSW this past weekend for their annual quest to answer exactly that question. And this year many came up empty — or at least indifferent. Some even skipped the event completely. Of course we like to see winners and losers. And SXSW…Read More >>
A theater show happens in real time. It’s live on stage and the actors are actually saying the lines as you watch them. And if it’s well done, it can seem spontaneous and real and unscripted. But of course, it is scripted. They are memorizing lines and performing them. Improv, on the other hand is completely UNscripted. It is based…Read More >>
Summary: The story of why I decided to start the world’s first true “Concierge Marketing” service for large and mid-size brands. It all started because I knew the one thing I didn’t want to do. About three months ago I left my role at one of the biggest marketing agencies in the world and the only thing I knew for…Read More >>
Every year there seems to be another Admeter/Adbowl/Adrank type of contest that lets anyone register and vote for their favourite ads. Sure it’s nice when everyone has an opinion, but as any designer will tell you – opinions are like butts … everyone has one, but usually they stink. If you’re reading this, though, you probably care more about marketing…Read More >>
Yesterday I walked past a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show where a company was promoting their $59 tablet. The product was good, the price point was better than most other competitors, yet hardly anyone stopped at their booth. Just a few steps down was a beautifully designed booth promising “the world’s first real smart watch.” That booth was packed….Read More >>
What’s the Trend? New and old friends change the travel experience by curating where to go, and offering more local authentic experiences. Your friends are the new travel agent and tour guides, as a host of new services online and offline enable any traveler to get recommendations for unique experiences from friends. Beyond recommendations, this is also enabling far more…Read More >>
Rohit is founder of the Influential Marketing Group and an expert on helping global brands to be more human. For the past decade before starting his “concierge marketing” consultancy, Rohit led branding, digital and social media strategy for dozens of the world's largest brands through leadership roles at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett marketing agencies. He is the best selling author of two books (including Likeonomics, named one of the Top 5 Marketing/Sales Books of 2012 by 800CEORead), a non-boring keynote speaker and Professor of Global Marketing at Georgetown University.
15 Marketing Trends In 2013 And How Your Business Can Use Them
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