In one crucial aspect, companies are a lot like politicians: they hate apologising. Even when they’re caught doing something so objectively wrong a puppy-murdering paedophile on death row would hang his head in shame, they do their utmost to wriggle out of any responsibility.
Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, ENRON… these clowns could be filmed taking a dump in the Queen’s coffee and they’d still scream injustice. Here are 5 (in)famous corporate apologies from the last few years:
1. Apple Can’t Say “Sorry”
After realising masterful mind-control of the skinny jeans wearing masses would only get them so far, Apple decided they needed to eliminate the competition and set out to sue Samsung into oblivion. Arguing that Samsung copied their patented idea of ‘flat shiny things you carry around with you’, Apple lost the case so badly they were ordered to apologise to the entire world for being so petty. Being so petty, however, they decided the best way to deliver that apology was through such an unapologetic statement that the court had to force them to redo it. That’s what paying only 2% tax in the UK can afford you, boys and girls, the self-entitlement necessary to show such contempt for an entire legal system.
2. BP Use Apology Ad to Congratulate Themselves
Proving that Dow Chemical doesn’t have a monopoly on ecological evil, BP released this ad in response to the Clearwater Horizon oil spill that devastated the Gulf Coast in 2010. In it, Ex-CEO Tony Hayward stumbles through an ‘apology’ that highlights just how good BP’s response to the spill has been, like they’re some plucky charity helping clear up and not the idiots who caused it in the first place. Most egregious moment: the photo of happy, clean birds accompanying the narration, at a time when entire ecosystems were still falling victim to the awful spill.
3. Dave Hartnett and Vodafone Contempt for the UK Public
Most of you are probably thinking ‘who the heck is Dave Hartnett?’ Well, bear with us: Dodgy Dave was a high-ranking tax advisor to HMRC, who was responsible for letting both Vodafone and Goldman Sachs get away with billions in tax avoidance. He aided in the gigantic bill being written off when Vodafone’s dodgy dealing was brought to light, leaving them free to post the most unapologetic statement in the history of ever, without fear of legal repercussions. If you think that’s not too bad, we invite you to attempt getting your own tax bill written off this year, and see how HMRC responds when you’re not cosied up with the top guy.
4. The Murdochs: Like Father Like Son?
In 2011 it came to – shocking – light that News International-owned paper The News of the World had hacked the phone of a murdered teenage girl; along with a raft of celebrities, politicians and other ‘newsworthy’ folk. The reaction was immediate: Rupert Murdoch flew to the UK, closed the tabloid and apologised to Milly Dowler’s family. He even managed to sound sincere. The same can’t be said for his son James. While his old dad wept and asked forgiveness, James delivered a masterpiece of obfuscation at the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics; muttering Business jargon, feigning ignorance and resolutely failing to apologise. At least Rupert had the balls to admit he was wrong.
5. A Martyr at the BBC
If you’re not based in the UK, you should know dark things are happening over here. A beloved entertainer turned out to be one of the most evil men who ever lived, a culture of abuse was uncovered in the NHS, Police and BBC; and then the BBBC accidentally accused an innocent man of paedophilia. Time for an apology, maybe? In the resulting furore, Director George Entwhistle ‘fell on his sword’ and took the blame, resigning from his post. Fair enough you may say, but let us point out Entwhistle’s almighty severance package; and subtly remind you of his senior position during the days of abuse at the corporation. Yep, when you’re director general, maybe your errors will be as comfortable as Mr. Entwhistle’s.
Maybe these businesses should check out these business technology practices that will save their souls?