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First Toyota, Now Tiger: When Brands Say They’re Sorry

Posted by: Ben Purkert on February 19, 2010

People make mistakes. We all mess up... No worries! Just forgive and forget.

But what about brands?

JetBlue and Toyota learned the hard way that customers never listen more closely than when you admit failure. Fast forward then to Tiger Woods who has the especially thorny task of expressing contrition as a person first, brand second.

Now athletes are no strangers to the press conference apology. (Neither are politicians for that matter.) Every day it seems a new sports star is seeking forgiveness for use of a banned substance (I knew not what I injected!) or some other egregious misstep (I didn’t mean to say that!). But few are responsible for managing a personal brand that is the size and magnitude of Tiger’s. A global institution synonymous with perfection... How could a brand like that goof up?

If you read the transcript of Tiger’s apology, you’ll note he details the specific consequences of his actions: “I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me.” In case you’re wondering, that last one is code for brand.

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