The problem explained on other star´s apology videos. Over the past few years, the ability to apologize in public has become an important skill. High-profile campaigns like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter are forcing many to rethink what was considered normal in the past. And at the same time, admit that their previous actions were inappropriate and painful for other people – that is, they give a reason to apologize.
More and more people and brands are realizing the importance of publicly admitting guilt – but this does not mean that every such action turns out to be successful and meaningful. Moreover, not every public statement sets itself the goal of actually apologizing: often an apology bypasses the main problem in every possible way or distracts attention from it. Understanding what makes public statements successful – and what doesn’t.
An example of a “false” corporate apology is the Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner.
In the video, Jenner resolves the clash of protesters with the police by offering a police bank Pepsi – the ad was accused of carelessly simplifying American protests (not to mention the fact that Jenner’s heroine goes to a rally, dropping a wig in the hands of an African-American woman). The company withdrew the video, but its very statement was very evasive: Pepsi said they tried to convey the idea of ”unity, peace, and understanding”, but they did not succeed, they “did not want to take a serious problem lightly.” In fact, the company apologized not for the fact that its actions were incorrect – but for the fact that its intentions were misunderstood.
According to the scheme “I’m sorry that you are offended” not only companies but also the public people apologize. For example, singer and actress Lea Michele, best known for her role on the TV series Glee, recently posted a post in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
After that, the African American actress Samantha Ware, who worked with her on the set, accused Michelle of being aggressive and turned her first television job “hell.” Lea Michele posted an apology post on Instagram, in which, among other things, she made it clear that because of her privileged position and the corresponding views, those around her perceived her as a “tactless and incorrect” person – that is, in fact, she shifted the focus away from her actions how others perceived them. It is significant that in the comments to this post you can find many similar accusations of aggression, including from famous people – for example, from drag queen Willem.
Another common situation is when an apologetic person tries to distract others from the main topic with his public statement. Harvey Weinstein, in one of his first speeches after the accusation of harassment and violence, said that he wants to direct his anger against the US National Rifle Association, an organization that advocates the right of citizens to keep and carry firearms. Kevin Spacey, in response to accusations of harassment, came out and revealed that he was gay. This angered the LGBT community. Spacey was accused of harassing an actor who had not reached the age of consent – and in this context, his return coming out actually referred to the stereotype that homosexual people were allegedly “dangerous” for children and adolescents.
When apologizing publicly, people in general often shift the focus, talking about their emotions and losses, thus trying to evoke sympathy for their own drama, and not for people whose lives were also broken through his fault.
Unlike the variety of insincere and unsuccessful attempts, a good public apology has several distinct traits that can be difficult to implement. An apology should be as quick as possible, look and feel as sincere, and should not be removed from the addressee of the apology. In addition, in a situation of apology, experts believe that not only words are effective, but also concrete actions aimed at changing the situation.