Fans of “This Is Us” will likely never forget the episode where it was finally revealed how Jack Pearson died. “This Is Us” is a show centered on a family patriarch — Jack — who died before the show started. While hints were given in seasons 1 and 2 of the show, it was only revealed in season 2, episode 13, that a faulty Crock-Pot was to blame for the fire that ultimately caused Jack’s death.
The uproar from fans was almost immediate, and probably something “This Is Us” never expected. People began to speak out against the slow cooker brand and even to throw their older Crock-Pots away. Whether marketing genius or damage control, Crock-Pot immediately leaped into action. They tried various efforts to reinstate its good name among homeowners everywhere.
1. Talk Shows
Even the actors on the show have tried to help Crock-Pot’s image after the episode revealing that a faulty slow cooker started a fire. Milo Ventimiglia went on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Feb. 7 and told fans that the hate at Crock-Pot had been misdirected. He said that the issue was a slow cooker. He even started #Crock-Pot Is Innocent to get social media buzz going for the brand. Talk shows can help reach fans that were turned off slow cookers by the episode, because they often tune in to hear from their favorite stars.
2. Pre-Super Bowl Ads
Crock-Pot enlisted the help of Ventimiglia soon after it was revealed how he died. They worked together to create an ad to release ahead of the Super Bowl. He offers tips for dads before the big game. The sage advice is tongue-in-cheek and meant to help clear Crock-Pot’s name. After all, if Jack says people should mend fences, and he really means with Crock-Pot, then maybe people will listen to him.
3. Damage Control
A spoiler was released on Facebook prior to the actual episode airing and “This Is Us” fans started to react. Crock-Pot immediately started responding, trying to assess the damage and keep it at a minimum. While this isn’t 100 percent effective as a marketing tool, protecting your reputation during an onslaught is a smart move. It likely reduced the number of people throwing out their crocks and hopefully made people realize that Jack is a fictional character — they knew it, but did they really know it?
Using a hashtag to get the buzz going on Twitter can work to a brand’s advantage if used across different platforms. In the commercial aired with Ventimiglia and in other forums, Crock-Pot and the actors from “This Is Us” began to use #CrockPotIsInnocent. It was a humorous way to turn the attention from something negative to something fun and interesting. Before the episode was released, Crock-Pot didn’t have an official Twitter page.
5. Informing the Public
Once Crock-Pot gathered its brightest, it decided to inform the public about the actual facts about its products and that the public was not in danger. The company issued a statement about the episode and that they have sold over 100 million Crock-Pots in the last 50 years without any complaints like the fictional one in the show. They went on to share the safety specs of the product to further assure customers that an event like the one in the show would be nearly impossible. Educating the public about your product is a smart move, especially if there are concerns.
6. Reaching Out to Naysayers
Crock-Pot also mentioned in its statement above that while it loves “This Is Us,” it hoped the show would help clear its name. To the credit of the show, it did step up almost immediately. The morning after the episode aired, Dan Fogelman, creator of “This Is Us,” posted to Twitter that the Crock-Pot in question was fictional, old and faulty. Reaching out to someone who has damaged your reputation can sometimes be a smart marketing tactic. If the damage was unintentional, they may help you set the record straight.
7. Take to Twitter
There are more than 330 million monthly active users on Twitter. Crock-Pot cast a broad net to work on its suddenly tarnished reputation by setting up a Twitter account and posting calming tweets about their safety, how long the company has been in business and responding to anyone upset over the Crock-Pot episode.
8. Continuing Public Relations
The situation that the show created for Crock-Pot isn’t likely to go away soon. People in 2018 have a tendency to record to their DVRs or to binge-watch shows on Netflix and other subscription services. Crock-Pot will likely have to dredge up this topic again and again to ensure it doesn’t continue to lose customers.
During the Super Bowl, Crock-Pot posted a few tweets on its Twitter page, such as “That game was lit, but not Crock-Pot! #CrockPotIsInnocent.”
Adding a bit of humor to the posts helps lighten the mood. It may even assist with brand recognition in the future. Even though Crock-Pot was already an established name, there is a younger generation coming of age that might have more readily recognized Instant Pot. This is a smart way to take something negative and turn it into something positive.
9. Reaching Out to the Vocal Few
Interestingly, even though the buzz has been loud, some sources report that the people really lambasting Crock-Pot are actually just a handful. For example, the company has 2.3 million likes on Facebook, but around 10 people were demeaning them for “killing Jack.”
Understanding that a negative review can spread faster than a positive one, though, Crock-Pot reached out to those posting on its wall and offered to go into direct message to further discuss the issue. While it isn’t clear where the exchange went from there, one can imagine the company offering additional proof and perhaps even some type of promotion to win these people over.
10. Sharing Milo’s Video
Crock-Pot also shared Ventimiglia’s video on Facebook, Twitter and its website. Placing the video above the fold grabs the attention of anyone visiting the page to seek out information about whether a slow cooker could start a fire like the one in “This Is Us.” It also doesn’t put the entire focus on that video, showing some recipes and products to grab a site visitor’s attention. It invites people to join the conversation about Crock-Pot and highlight some recipes shared on Facebook.
Expect the Unexpected
At the end of the day, it’s smart to learn from Crock-Pot and what it’s dealt with over the fire episode. You might do everything perfectly and one tweet or television episode can derail all your marketing efforts. Be ready to hit the ground running if you need to do some type of damage control. Part of preparing for such an incident includes putting the best marketing team possible together and knowing how to work with one another. Hosting stand-up meetings each morning and participating in team-building can help you work much more efficiently when you have to rush around and get the word out to protect your brand. Don’t worry, Crock-Pot will be fine.