Brands in a state of crisis can learn a little from hip-hop star Chris Brown.
Chris Brown was one of music’s biggest stars until February 8, 2009 when he was arrested by LAPD for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna. Immediately his sponsors and partners bailed on him to put some distance between their brand and his. He was replaced on the 2009 Grammy Awards broadcast by Justin Timberlake, and many radio stations stopped playing Chris Brown’s hits including “With You” and “Forever”.
For nearly two years, Chris Brown has been away from the limelight. He has appeared on Larry King Live and 20/20 discussing the incident and he has consistently appeared apologetic and regretful for his actions. One of his more public appearances was at the 2010 BET Awards, where he broke down in tears while performing a tribute to Michael Jackson.
It appears that the world is ready to accept Chris Brown once again. His new song “Deuces” is climbing the charts, and he is set to star in the movie “Takers” due out August 27.
For brands like Chris Brown who are facing controversy, the equation is simple:
TIME + ACTIONS = FORGIVENESS
When your brand has been scarred – rightly or wrongly – you cannot instantly recover. It takes time.
And all the time in the world won’t make a difference if your behavior doesn’t match.
Tylenol went through major crisis in 1982 when seven people died in Chicago after taking the medicine. They watched their market share drop from 38% to 8% nearly overnight. It took almost a year before it rebounded, a performance that surprised many people and was directly attributable to how the company handled the crisis. They apologized. They took responsibility. They pulled all of their products, everywhere, just in case. They helped the police investigate. They communicated with the media regularly. They helped create new tamper-resistant packaging to prevent future problems. Tylenol faced things head on in a way that connected with consumers.
Chris Brown committed a serious crime that nobody should ever forget take lightly. However, it looks like his remorseful behavior combined with the passage of time has given his career a fresh start.