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O.B Tampons Is Really, Really Sorry
Business mishap? Offer clients an over-the-top apology on social media to win them back.

Nothing says sorry quite like an over-the-top, personalized apology. Johnson & Johnson learned this firsthand when the company released a video on their O.B. Tampons website earlier this month, making amends for discontinuing the O.B. Ultra product line in fall 2010, much to the chagrin of many loyal customers. The clip has since gone viral. The cliche-ridden video – featuring a hunky male crooner perched atop a white grand piano overlooking a picturesque sunset – was strategically created as part of an effort to re-launch the discontinued tampon line. Women of all ages have eagerly entered their names on the website to receive a personalized, comical apology. Sorry, fellas – male names don’t work. This particular campaign, created by advertising agency Lowe Roche, was not only a creative success, but also elicited a significant amount of public response – which is exactly what digital media is best used for. Based on media coverage and online feedback, O.B.’s cheesy singsong was an undeniable hit. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether the apology was warranted in the first place – the video itself makes up for everything, ostensibly making dissatisfied clients forget their dissatisfaction. And that’s exactly what Johnson & Johnson was hoping for. The success of O.B.’s video indicates that corporations looking to bounce back from a mistake should consider creating an innovative social media campaign or video. Sure, it can be expensive to finance these projects, but it’s worth the effort. People love to share amusing videos, and making amends online is the quickest way to bounce back after a mishap. When two Domino’s Pizza employees were caught violating several health codes on tape in a U.S. store in 2009, the company’s president was quick to issue a public apology via YouTube. It was quick, easy and transparent. Domino’s expanded on this by creating personalized videos for displeased customers, who were encouraged to use social media outlets (ie. Twitter) for complaints. Although Domino’s has since stopped this campaign, it has made strides in enhancing their image following this nasty misstep. It’s undeniable that our expectations as consumers have skyrocketed in the digital age. With social media tools at every company’s fingertips, we expect brands to go above and beyond, especially when apologizing for a misstep. But, are all companies expected to produce an online apology as grand as O.B.’s? According to Adam Stanley, a Toronto-based digital specialist, it depends. “I wouldn’t say that all brands need to go as far as O.B. did, but companies are definitely expected to do more with the current digital landscape. It’s your basic Social Media 101 – address a problem before it’s no longer in your control. There are more than enough free digital channels these days that apologizing online can often be an easy solution.” So, the next time your company is faced with the daunting task of apologizing to the public, remember O.B.’s successful approach. Create a humourous video – make people laugh and, most importantly, admit to being wrong and make amends. In O.B.’s case, viewers are offered a $2 tampon voucher at the end of the video. Johnson & Johnson could have just handed out coupons at retail locations, but instead, they combined their promotional idea with a creative social media element. The end result was what’s sure to be one of the year’s corniest yet most effective and courageous online apologies. No word yet on if this approach will work with angry friends.

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