6 CEO apologies on YouTube

YouTube has had many unexpected uses through the years, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted it would be used for public CEO apologies.

September 14, 2009

6 CEO apologies on YouTube

YouTube has had many unexpected uses through the years, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted it would be used for public CEO apologies. Who wouldn’t agree that it’s one of the many great ways for a major brand to respond quickly to negative PR online?

Below are 5 (update: now 6, thanks Consumerist) CEO video apologies that I found on YouTube after doing a quick search. A couple of these examples were also mentioned in more detail in a book called Tactical Transparency (pg. 100-104), which is what led to this post.

In case you haven’t already heard, this video was posted shortly after a unappetizing video was posted by two store employees which quickly went viraaaaaal and led to a PR crisis for Domino’s. The apology by CEO Patrick Doyle currently has 754k views, which is by far the most out of all these examples.

The second largest number of views (currently at 361k) belongs to a video posted by JetBlue’s former CEO David Neeleman after the company had a very bad week. This apology mostly got positive responses because it seemed to be the most genuine and unscripted. This apology letter was also posted on the their website.

KFC President Roger Eaton had to try and calm people down after a free meal coupon was promoted on Oprah and things quickly got out of hand. The original apology video has been removed since then and KFC did a really good job of making sure the it was off the internet (please let me know if you find it). Since I cannot embed the video, here is a screenshot instead:


It wouldn’t be a toy company if they didn’t have to recall their toys at one point in time. Unfortunately for Mattel it was three recalls in just four weeks. The original apology video by CEO Bob Eckert was also removed but this study on believability below highlights the original clip while showing the results of the study.

Maple Leaf Foods
Summary: a major food processing company that had to apologize for bacteria in their food products which actually lead to people dying. It has only received 74k views so far probably because it’s the lowest profile brand out of these 5 but I’m still surprised because it seemed like a very serious health and PR case.

(Update) American Airlines
The Consumerist was kind enough to point out another apology that I missed from American Airlines’ CEO Jim Goodwin. This one is short.

Two honorable mentions which would have definitely made it to this list if they were also in the form of video apologies: Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos apologizing after the remote deletion of Orwell’s 1984 book from all Kindles and Motrin’s ad targeted toward mom’s that badly backfired. Instead all we got was this short message board post from Jeff Bezoz and a short written apology from Motrin posted on its website.

Any others that I missed? Leave a comment or let me know on Twitter @jsmakr.


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