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Apologizing Campaigns: Lessons Learned from Facebook, Uber, and Wells Fargo

What do you do when your company is in all the headlines for all the wrong reasons? For many large corporations, launching apology campaigns is the way to go. But regaining trust after a crisis can be costly. Brands like Facebook, Uber, and Wells Fargo are spending millions on advertising aimed to win back consumers’ trust.


There’s a lot of reason for people to be less fond and distrusting of Facebook in recent months. From the spread of fake news to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook just can’t catch a break. That’s why the company has reportedly spent $30 million on U.S. TV commercials, since the launch of its “Here Together” creative on April 25. The campaign is set to run through summer and will include out of home, digital, billboard, transit, and movie theater ads.

Will the vague assurances and quasi apology be enough to regain the trust of its users after the massive data breach and spam content? Only time – and money – will tell.


Uber is so so sorry. And they’re going to spend upwards of $500 million on ads to let you know just that. The ridesharing company, as you probably know, needs to salvage its image and convince its target base that it’s turning over a new leaf after accusations fo sexual harassment tarnished its reputation.

A new branding campaign rolled out last month in the U.S. promises a better culture for all (employees, passengers, drivers). The “Moving Forward” TV ad spot doesn’t mention any of the company’s problems but focuses on new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as he promises a new direction. Since it premiered on May 14, ad research company iSpot estimates that Uber has spent nearly $10 million.

Now, the company is valued at more than $70 billion so maybe this is just pennies?

Wells Fargo:

Remember the Wells Fargo scandal of 2016? Where some of the bank’s staff opened accounts without the customers’ knowledge? Then, even more recently, the snafu in which some employees altered corporate customers documents – improperly? Is this massive breach of trust something the bank can recover from?

Earlier this year, Well Fargo launched a new integrated marketing campaign. The “re-established” theme tries to convince customers that the bank is fixing itself. and “building better every day.” Earning Back Your Trust is a multi-channel commitment campaign that attempts to strike an emotional chord with consumers. It features television, print, radio, and digital assets and uses a new tagline: “Established 1852. Reestablished 2018.”

Source: LA Times

The campaign has reportedly increases web traffic to Wells Fargo’s redesigned site. It’s honesty and transparency is supposedly hitting home with consumers. But what is it costing the bank? Campaign analysts say that the nationwide advertising likely costs millions of dollars. iSpot indicates that since May 5, 2018 Wells Fargo has spent roughly $21.5 million on its “Earning Back Your Trust” campaign. And that’s after paying a $1 billion fine for creating millions of fake accounts!

After seeing a sharp drop in account openings following the fallout, investing in public outreach campaigns is basically the only move.

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We’re always encouraging a transparent approach to marketing but clearly, if the above numbers are any indication, repairing a company’s image can come at a significant cost. Does your business have a plan for unexpected bad press?

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