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Managing Crises

The #oscarssowhite controversy and threatened boycott of the Academy Awards over lack of racial diversity is the latest reminder of the importance of building brand equity while the going is good.

It will take more than Chris Rock rewriting his script for the Feb. 28 Academy Awards show to rescue the cherished Oscar from his public shaming by the #oscarssowhite protest. When the Daily Show is poking fun at you, you know your brand is in trouble. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ approach is to promise changes, but they might not come soon enough to prevent a withering boycott. Still, better than Volkwagen, which is struggling to recover from the scandal over emissions-fudging software, offering little more than a too-little, too-late apology. Chipotle, too, has not exactly lit up the internet with damage control on its norovirus and e coli contamination scandals. Jack in the Box may have recovered brilliantly from its own, even more deadly crisis in 1993, but social media means the game has changed.

Brands are even less in control during a crisis than they ever were, said James Bray, executive creative director at M&C Saatchi LA. “Whatever those people out there are saying about your brand is what you are.” Most agree things have changed: a brand’s reputation is worth more than bricks and mortar these days. Advice on proactively managing brand crises is all over the mainstream media. Brands need proactive, transparent and sleeves-rolled-up plans before the storms breaks. Will you still watch the Oscars?


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