Sunday, 17 July 2011

When Sorry Doesn't Wash: NewsCorp and BP compared.

What have News Corp and BP got in common?

The UK's newspapers all carried advertisements from media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation headed 'We are sorry' this week. Which is an interesting response to the whole phone hacking furore (phonegate, if you likes your clich├ęs). Murdoch himself has given but one interview on the whole debacle, to the Wall Street Journal, which he happens to own.

He has not responded to any other media. He has not said one word himself, but has relied on this advertisement to do the job for him. This is nice, as it avoids him actually having to say the words. It's different, you know, actually saying you are sorry rather than getting an ad agency to write up some 'sorry' copy.

It's a lesson BP learned (or perhaps didn't) over deep sea oil spill screwupgate. They spent $50 million on a glib 'sorry' ad campaign that backlashed harder than a snapped high-tension cable. Although CEO Tony Hayward actually appears in the video, something that Murdoch has failed to do in addressing the increasingly serious tumult around his company's journalistic ethics, Hayward didn't actually say sorry. Really, truly, sorry. Using advertising tactics to put out reassuring images isn't saying sorry. Talking about how you're making it all better isn't sorry. Saying 'We really, really screwed up and we recognise that' in person - now that's saying sorry.

You can't apologise by proxy and expect to be taken seriously.

And that's the key to the Murdoch ads. How many people think he truly is sorry? And how many think he just bought space rather than get out there and express true, humble, real contrition? And if he's not sorry after all - what's going to change moving forwards?


Brn said...

Are you sure that Murdoch owns the Washington Post? Wikipedia says that it is owned by the The Washington Post Company, whose primary shareholders are the heirs of Eugene Meyer, former owner of the Post. I know that he owns the Wall Street Journal, but this is the first that I've ever heard about him owning the Post.

alexander... said...

You're bang on the money, Brn and it's corrected now. A (Washington) post in haste repent at leisure moment!

Seabee said...

His 'we only made minor mistakes in handling the crisis', made to his WSJ, was actually one more huge mistake.

It's been a catalogue of uncharacteristically monumental errors, the arms-distance apology ads being just the latest example.

Anonymous said...

of course he is truly deeply sorry... that he got caught!

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