One of the key pillars of Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the act of forgiveness, perhaps best encapsulated in the phrase “Maaf Zahir dan Batin”, loosely translated “I seek forgiveness (from you) physically and spiritually.” It’s an earnest attempt on the part of the individual saying it to wipe the slate clean with the recipient of the greeting, symbolising a somewhat new start in the times to come. Which is usually the case, as forgiveness and mercy are prized as virtues in Islam.
But is the same true in branding and advertising?
Why don’t brands ask for forgiveness enough from their fans and supporters when they make a mistake?
Why is it so hard for brands to own up and take accountability for their wrongdoing, when all it takes is a simple “I’m Sorry” to begin rebuilding their relationship with audiences?
Why is an apology seen as an admission of guilt, rather than a sign of a mature, responsible and well-grounded organisation?
Over the past year we’ve seen a whole bunch of branding missteps, primarily on social media, many of which could have been easily remedied through a properly worded, sincere apology.
It’s what you do when someone in your company calls your customers (yes, the people paying money to consume and experience your brand) “bitches”. (Les Deux Garcons)
It’s what’s you do when a celebrity chef walks out on you because you can’t accept criticism, and you answer the backlash with “You people are all S***.” (Amy’s Baking Company)
It’s what you do when you erroneously announce the availability of certain cute little cartoon characters but aren’t quite ready to make good on their delivery.
We get it that different companies have different ways of handling publicity gaffes and branding mishaps. But we’re pretty sure that being vague, elusive or downright rude isn’t the way to do it; neither is giving an insincere model answer, or hiding behind a wall of legal jargon.
We wish all our Muslim readers and fans Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin.