Learn From Their Mistakes

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

At around 12 PM on Monday, April 13th, shoemaker Rothy’s sent an email to their customers which included this ill-conceived note:

An email noting that Rothy's is donating masks with every purchase of shoes.

You, a tremendously intelligent reader of this site, may already be able to guess what happened next. Just nine hours later, Rothy’s sent an apologetic follow-up:

An email apologizing, and removing the sales-related portion of their mask donations.

In 2020, it seems far too many people view apologizing and taking responsibility as a sign of weakness. President Trump is an egregious offender in this department. He sets a terrible example for the entire country, and indeed, the world. His recent pathetic statement regarding America’s failures at testing for COVID-19 was hardly the stuff of great leadership:

“I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said defiantly, pointing to an unspecified “set of circumstances” and “rules, regulations and specifications from a different time.”

Compare that against the words of past presidents:

“I’m the responsible officer of the government,” John F. Kennedy said of the Bay of Pigs. “This happened on my watch,” Ronald Reagan said of Iran-Contra. “I take full responsibility for the federal government’s response,” George W. Bush said of Hurricane Katrina.

Rothy’s screwed up, a fact they were undoubtedly informed of by many customers. Within hours, they set about apologizing and making things right. That’s an example many companies, and many people, could learn to emulate.

Perhaps this incident might also serve as a more general warning to other marketers. Our already overfull inboxes are now absolutely bursting with COVID-19 related nonsense. Every day, innumerable emails assure us that so-and-so company is “there for us” in these “uncertain times”. If you’re a marketer, stop and think if your company actually needs to email your customers right now. You probably don’t, and ideally, you’d just stay quiet for a bit. If you do insist on emailing, at least take some time to think about your message. Maybe that way, you won’t need to send a follow-up apology email as well.


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