Like a jaw-dropping episode of Game of Thrones, a PR crisis can gain attention and evoke all kinds of responses in a matter of seconds. In most cases, you just can’t make this stuff up; and I guiltily can’t get enough. What did a brand do wrong? How is it going to handle it? What crazy B.S. or brilliant apologies are being offered now?
But since we all love a happy ending, it’s encouraging to see a brand successfully manage its reputation in the face a potentially detrimental PR crisis. While we recently looked at a company who did it completely wrong, we can now take a look at one who did it right: Fathead.
If you’re not already familiar with the story, Fathead, which makes and sells various wall decals from pro athletes to Disney characters, recently found itself in the middle of a customer service snafu. The mistake? They sent a Tim Tebow poster instead of a Tom Brady poster to a customer *gasp*, who then turned to Reddit to publicize the error. And it went viral.
In response, Fathead sent the correct graphic to the customer, along with 12 other Tom Brady decals and $1000 worth of products. Not too shabby.
But considering all of the negative publicity that resulted from the error, Reddit encouraged Fathead to take their repentance a step further.
Embracing the opportunity, Fathead quickly created an ad and took a jab at itself in the process:
The ad—which garnered 134 upvotes (Reddit’s version of “likes”), 78 mostly-positive comments, and a thousand visits to their website— displayed Fathead in a positive light, as they cunningly and humbly responded to the issue.
Unlike other companies that would have overlooked the incident by either ignoring it or saying it was overblown, Fathead demonstrated the right way to handle a communications crisis, which ultimately softened the negative publicity instead of making it worse. Granted the issue was on the lighter side of the scandal spectrum, but any taint on one’s image is a bad one, no matter how small. Fathead validated their customer’s concerns by paying their dissatisfied customer in full—and beyond—and they owned up to their mistake by taking action in an over-the-top way with an ad on the very site where their negative publicity lies.
The word “crisis” in Chinese is made up of two apt characters: the character for danger and the character for opportunity. We find both danger and opportunity in every crisis, and it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to view it.