The Year of the Apology Tour

January 9th, 2019

A complete recommitment to you.”


That’s going to change.”


Moving forward, it’s time to move in a new direction.”

Three things said in three not-so-different commercials for three of America’s most prominent brands: Wells Fargo, Facebook and Uber. 2018 has indeed turned into the year of the apology tour. A year in which brands ask for forgiveness as they face round after round of negative publicity, boycotts and even congressional hearings.

How did we get here?

Well, according to the Harvard Business Review and data firm Label Insight, consumers cite shared values (64 percent) and transparency (94 percent) as major factors when it comes to determining with which brands they want to build a relationship. Should these factors erode, brands are left with fewer ways to compete and little in the way of differentiation.

In 2018, brands are being held to higher expectations than ever before. Why? Because we as consumers have choices. Don’t like Uber? Try Lyft. Not a fan of Wells Fargo? There are plenty of other banks out there (might we suggest First National Bank? 😊). Gone are the days when we just grin and bear it because we have no other options. And companies know that. That’s why they’re spending upwards of $500 million on high-impression campaigns aimed at regaining trust and reshaping the narrative. Frustrated with Facebook? Well, that’s a different story. But, you could always delete your account.

Will they be successful?

On YouTube, all three ads suffered from a considerable amount of “dislikes.” All three brands were forced to disable comments on their videos. And all three have served as fodder for countless parodies.

How can brands prevent this?

Advertising can only do so much after the fact. You can’t promote a value or a mission that doesn’t actually exist. So, always place your customers’ needs first. Don’t try to be something that you’re not. And do what’s right from the get go. You won’t have to reestablish yourself if you never lose your way in the first place.


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