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The Power of An Apology: Getting Back Up On That Horse


If your brand had to put a positive spin on horsemeat, how would YOU go about it? Goes well with Spaghetti Bologneighs? Horseradish is just upgraded radish?

But with jokes aside, the on-going horsemeat scandal that Findus (as well as other brands like IKEA) are facing seems like a lost battle, as their ready-made lasagna and other microwavable products had traces of up to 100% horsemeat in them. You can’t run (or in this instance, gallop) far from something this big, yet at the same time, you can’t change your tainted brand name and start a new, leaving everything else behind in the rubble.

Findus; being a prominent big-player in the frozen ready-meal sector, has been a household brand name for over 50 years in the UK, with global sales of over £1 billion in 2011, which are obviously going to plummet due to the aftermath of said scandal.

Not only that, but experts say that this will affect the sales of processed meat as a whole as the trust between consumer and supermarket have been broken.

But surprisingly Findus still exists and are still going strong. Why? Because of an authentic apology and the factors that come with it:

1. The Apology – This will bear the brunt of what is to become of the brand. By just apologising, owning up to what was done and showing true remorse backed up with a plan of action to rectify the problem; all will be forgiven. Just like the Perrier scandal in 1990 (where benzene was found in the water), the brand’s market share was back to where it was within a year, which experts predict a similar fate for Findus. Never underestimate the forgiving and merciful nature of the consumer.

2. Time of Apology – In situations like this, it is said that the focus lies in the handling of the crisis, rather than the crisis itself. This will inadvertently affect if the consumer will continue to trust Findus or not. Drawing attention to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, the chief executive Tony Hayward was condemned for his slow response. People still hold equal value to the way that company responded to the crisis itself. Timing is everything.

3. Learning From Your Mistakes – The fact that Findus are an established brand might mean a very promising second chance ahead of them. However, to regain our trust, they will have to be completely transparent, lay out what they have done and convince us they have learned from the entire experience, because a lesson merely heard is never a lesson learned.

So, just like the time when you ate all your mum’s fundraiser cookies that were meant for the weekend bake sale from when you were 6; it is best to own up what you did then and there. With that chocolate chip smeared grin and crumb stained teeth, you’ve been had, and a simple ‘I’m sorry’ will get you out from a lot of trouble.

And these fundamental principals carry over into branding. When you’re in the wrong, a genuine, heartfelt apology should always be priority number one, to convey to your consumers that they always come first and that you value your relationship. Everybody makes mistakes, but to own up to it with conviction and humility makes all the difference. (Click to tweet)

Is your brand saddled up for a rocky journey?

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