We’ve all been guilty of typing too fast in an email and hitting send with the message whizzing off to the wrong recipient, or sending a text message that is more fascinating than first expected because we didn’t check the details.
Spelling and content blunders. They get us all at some time. Most of us only suffer the embarrassment at a local office level – but there have been some big whoppers that have become overnight online sensations, trending and shared across the world with lightning speed.
One such example: the misspelling of Cathay Pacific as “Cathay Paciic” on a Boeing 777-367 seen from the terminal at Hong Kong airport in 2018. Their PR team dealt with this beautifully by taking to Twitter to call out their own mistake and advising “She’s going back to the shop for a repaint”. This led to a flurry of tweets and retweets by the general public making fun of the mistake and offering their own take on the mishap. No harm, no foul and their social platforms saw a huge spike in reach and engagement.
Another mishap but not as well received was the 2017 congratulations email to finishers of the Boston Marathon. The email read “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon”.
Although this seems like a genuine message of congratulations, four years earlier in 2013 three people died and over 200 were injured after the bombing at the running of that Boston Marathon. This simple, well-intended message suddenly became totally inappropriate.
In response to this stuff up Adidas didn’t try to shift the blame or give a reason, they simply owned their mistake. “We are incredibly sorry. Clearly, there was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday, we deeply apologize for our mistake”. This was probably the best outcome for them, showing that even the biggest brands have humans behind them and no one is perfect.
In both these instances the brands needed to be on the front foot to start making good. By leaving an obvious faux pas unattended you leave yourself open to further backlash – we all make mistakes, hey we’re only human, but we can definitely lessen the blow by owning those mistakes.