Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Is It Right for Brands to Apologise for Their Previous Performance?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Is It Right for Brands to Apologise for Their Previous Performance?

Article excerpt

The Evening Standard has run a series of ads apologising to Londoners for its performance under its previous owner in the hope of encouraging former readers to reappraise the relaunched paper.

YES - CAMERON SAUNDERS, MARKETING DIRECTOR, TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM COMPANY

It takes guts to apologise, and to apologise so comprehensively and publicly is a real statement of intent.

Clearly the Evening Standard's campaign is the start of a conversation with Londoners, a bold attempt to drive reappraisal of a brand in freefall. It also feels like the end of a major internal debate at the paper: 'We got it wrong, and things are going to change around here.' It's a real gamble and risks insulting core readers who feel it has nothing to apologise for, but without radical change, the only guarantee is a continued slide into oblivion.

Should brands apologise? Absolutely, but only if they mean it and are doing something about it.

I do feel the Standard's new owners are genuinely distancing themselves from the past, and are sincere in their desire for change. But didn't they begin to really 'lose touch' when they continued to charge for their paper in the face of the evening freesheets? It's right to apologise unreservedly for mistakes, but in the Standard's case, is it apologising for the right mistake, or is it just apologetic marketing?

NO - STEPHEN WOODFORD, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, DDB LONDON

The Evening Standard is part of the rich tapestry of London life However, it is no longer UK-owned - Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev now holds the reins and clearly, perhaps bravely, he wants to make a break with the past.

Saying 'sorry' has a cultural significance for us Brits. The campaign has tapped into the fact we respect institutions that apologise when they are wrong, but can we respect an institution that apologises unnecessarily?

Apologising makes a latent issue prominent and, for me, creates no advantage for the paper. I read the Evening Standard and do not share the new regime's low opinion of the newspaper's previous editorial. To me, it is an authority for breaking London and national news, and as a loyal reader I feel insulted.

Could this be Lebedev's 'Gerald Ratner moment', or the courageous new dawn for a great London institution? My vote is for the former.

MAYBE - RUFUS RADCLIFFE, HEAD OF NETWORK MARKETING, CHANNEL 4

Apologising is risky, particularly when the mistake isn't obvious. …

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