When saying sorry doesn’t work

14 May 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment


Andrew Curry writes:
Suddenly, ‘sorry’ seems to be the easiest word, at least in London. Quite apart from politicians saying sorry, eventually, about their expenses, we’ve had Marks and Spencers saying sorry for charging more for bigger bras, and (as Andy Stubbings has mentioned here) the London Evening Standard saying sorry in an extensive poster campaign for, well, for pretty much everything.

It’s true that the Standard’s branding is discreet and it’s mostly done by typography, but it seems as if the paper is saying sorry for being complacent, predictable, negative, and out of touch among other things.

As ad campaigns go, it has the merit of getting them talked about (as this post demonstrates) although for this non-reader the Standard was always a smug evening paper which pandered to the prejudices of its core audience in the commuter belt.

Indeed the whole campaign, prompted by the arrival of new Russian owner and new editor, feels like they’ve done some focus groups with lapsed readers and slapped the findings straight on to the billboards. (Which saves the inconvenience of a debrief, I guess).

Will any of these work? I think the M&S apology will – it’s a simple issue with a simple remedy. I’m sceptical about the other two. In the face of their respective declining markets, both paper and politicians will find that saying sorry isn’t enough.

The picture at the top, published under a Creative Commons licence, was taken by renaissancechambers, whose photostream is here.

Entry filed under: advertising, brands, marketing. Tags: , .

Old and unimproved Some good things we’ve seen #2

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Robert  |  15 May 2009 at 10:04 pm

    The problem for the politicians is that they aren’t saying sorry for what the public thinks they should be saying sorry.
    The MPs say: we’re sorry that the rules are wrong. And we recognise public anger and we’re sorry about that. But we haven’t done anything illegal.
    They got to a state where they believed they were entitled to their ‘allowance’ and just made sure they put in the receipts/ deals to ensure they got it.
    What they need to say, if it has meaning, is that they are sorry they personally did something wrong. Not that the system did it: the system didn’t MAKE them claim the allowance. They are puzzled because “everyone else was doing it”. Yes, each individually were wrong. The system didn’t help them see it: the system blinded them to it. But just apologising because of the system won’t wash. They need to apologise about their personal mistakes.


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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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