Why Customers Are No Longer Empathetic Towards Mea Culpa Ads

Why Customers Are No Longer Empathetic Towards Mea Culpa Ads

Since August is National Catfish Month, we’re dedicating this month to calling out unscrupulous companies with low morals and appalling track records for customer relations. You can read the first instalment in our series here.

A time-honored tradition of corporate America, the apology ad has experienced something of a renaissance in the past year. Uber, Facebook and Wells Fargo all aired mea culpa advertisements during the NBA Finals, with their wrongdoings ranging from sexual harassment claims (oopsie-daisies!) to flagrant data abuse (please forgive us!) through to large-scale commercial fraud (pretty please forgive us and maybe forget this ever happened?).

To take another Latin phrase, te futueo et caballum tuum—that is, screw you, and the horse you rode in on. We have no doubt that these companies are sorry—that is, sorry their shoddy ethics got exposed. Blind to everything but the bottom line, these companies are now suffering the consequences in the form of plunging stakeholder value, less new business and even congressional testimonials rich with schadenfreude.

Unfortunately, our tiny violins are getting tuned, so we won’t be able to play a sad dirge for these mega-corporations with their mega-profits. The public isn’t so quick to forgive these faux pas these days either (even when the company takes out a full-page ad in the New York Times that does pretty much the bare minimum in taking ownership).

This standard of corporate apology just doesn’t cut it anymore. Here’s why:

Consumers Can Read Between the Lines

The generations that grew up on the Internet are media-savvy enough to X-ray right through a “non-apology” apology put together by your legal team. Don’t test their highly-attuned ability to whiff out BS—they know exactly what it means when your statement uses vague, circular language like “That wasn’t our intention” or “Mistakes were made.”

Integrity is One of the Most Treasured Qualities a Brand Can Process

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To read our full article, and hear how Wells Fargo is earning back your trust, click here.

Written by Christina Beavis, COO, Vox Populi Registry Ltd.

Photo Credits: Unsplash / John Schnobrich , rawpixel

Check out our first article of Catfish month here.


Christina is the Chief Operating Officer of Vox Populi Registry and has been a member of Momentous Global since 2009. Christina has helped establish Vox Populi as a global, award-winning Cloud Strategy and Solutions Provider. Under her management, Vox Populi has consistently achieved year-over-year revenue, profitability, client and associate growth. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she currently lives in sunny Turks and Caicos with her husband, 3 kids, and 2 dogs. Her free time is spent avoiding cold climates, playing many sports poorly, and enjoying the slow paced Caribbean lifestyle.