Apple’s Non-Apology (and Other PR Blunders)

What makes the perfect apology? Sincerity, for a start. Remorse. Acceptance. A great big serving of humble pie; we can all pretty much agree what’s required. Now look at those qualities and tell us how many of them you associate with faceless multinationals. If you said ‘none whatsoever’, congratulations: you’re cynical enough to be an adult. Here are three of the least successful apologies ever given in recent history:

Apple’s non-apology to Samsung

Evidently aspiring to be the Donald Trump of tech, Apple whacked Samsung with a copyright infringement lawsuit over their tablet computer design, then threw a massive tantrum when it didn’t go their way. Ordered by a UK court to post a link for 6 months on their homepage, explaining what giant jackasses they are, Apple first hid the link so no-one could find it, then posted what amounts to such an objectively insincere apology that the court ordered them to re-do it. Rather than looking anything like it was meant to, Apple’s statement was a hodgepodge of blatant spin, outright lies and playground-level jeering at how ‘uncool’ Samsung products were. With newspaper adverts due to appear on the 16th November highlighting the ruling, it remains to be seen if the pathetic carcass of this non-apology can possibly be flogged any further.

Goldman Sachs Acknowledges Need to Apologise, Doesn’t

Who could forget the words of Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs in 2009? “Certainly, our industry is responsible for things. We’re a leader in our industry, and we participated in things that were clearly wrong and we have reasons to regret and apologise for.” Followed by a long silence as people waiting for the apology slowly realised that was it. While his words don’t quite have the brilliance of Bob Diamond asking people to stop criticizing bankers, they are arguably even more offensive. Bearing in mind Goldman were one of the key contributors to the crash, hoovering up over 20 billion in tax payer funded bailouts; and that this ‘apology’ more-or-less coincided with their decision to award $16.7 billion in bonuses while the rest of the world suffered through one of the worst downturns in living memory; it becomes hilariously clear who Mr Blankfein’s role model must be:

Rich "Uncle" Pennybags

Yep, that’s the one.

Dow Chemical Leave Thousands to Rot

Sometimes, the most offensive apology of all is simply no apology. In 1984 a huge cloud of gas over 500 times more toxic than cyanide was spewed across the Indian town of Bhopal, killing thousands and mutilating many more. The then-owners of the plant, Union Carbide instantly flew into action; after being forced by the Indian Government to cough up $470 million. For those of you not keeping count, that works out at a maximum of $533 per head to cover the costs of lifelong medical bills. Know where that sort of money can buy you decades of medical care? Not India. In 1999 with the site still polluted and ground water continuing to cause birth defects, Dow Chemical bought out Union Carbide and decided responsibility was no longer an issue. As of 2012, the victims have yet to receive adequate compensation or – you guessed it – an apology. Because part of Dow Chemical, even more so than Apple or Goldman Sachs, might be run by Disney villains.

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