- Uber and Facebook launched advertising campaigns over the last few months, for the sole purpose of assuaging relationships with users following a string of scandals.
- It’s a unique choice for the tech giants, neither of which have put advertising dollars into television before, which begs the question: Was the investment worth it?
- Not necessarily, according to data from insights platform Alpha; at least not from a consumer forgiveness standpoint.
Uber and Facebook are learning a valuable lesson in the art of owning up to your mistakes: Just because you serve up an apology doesn’t mean it’s going to be water under the bridge.
In the last few months, both tech giants have launched ad campaigns to apologize for high-profile scandals.
For Facebook, the issue was its improper safeguarding of user data, which was first used by Russian operatives to target users via Facebook ads leading up to the 2016 election, and then by data analytics company Cambridge Analytica to try to sway voters. Uber’s complicated relationship with users, meanwhile, is a result of a broader range of issues including internal sexual harassment claims and accounts of rider-driver violence.
Facebook launched its apology campaign, “Here together”, in April and Uber launched “Moving forward” in May. In addition to billboards, online posts, and emails, both include TV ads – the first time either company put themselves on broadcast television – all to say ‘we acknowledge what we did, now let’s let bygones be bygones.’
But how effective was this strategy? Not very, according to insights platform Alpha, which based its findings off of responses from 1,025 consumers via a marketing research panel.
Facebook’s ads were seen by over half of respondents. Not bad in terms of visibility, but almost a quarter of those who saw the ads said they didn’t forgive the company, compared to the 14% that accepted Uber’s apology. The rest said they were undecided, didn’t know what the company did wrong, or had another response completely. It isn’t fair to say that Uber did a better job, however; 71% of the respondents hadn’t even seen the ridesharing company’s apology ads.
Whether it was because of a failure to sell the message or because of a lack of visibility, the apology campaigns didn’t do much in terms of fixing wrongs in consumers’ eyes.
Still, it couldn’t have been a complete loss for either company. The expenses would be insignificant for a company bringing in as much as Uber or Facebook, and the effort to publicly apologize likely went a long way in showing investors and partners that they’re taking accountability for their problems.