A few weeks ago, Southwest Airlines apologized to a passenger who had been told by Southwest staffers that she was dressed “too provocatively to fly”.
Of course, they apologized to the passenger shortly thereafter.
Most companies would have stopped there, dropped their eyes to the floor and slunk back into their cave.
What do they do instead?
They launch a ‘mini-skirt’ campaign with short term lower fares. Not only that, they didn’t spend 3 weeks meeting about it, checking with focus groups and keeping the attorneys happy. Instead, they did it the same week that they apologized to the ‘provocatively dressed’ passenger and in true Southwest form, they had a lot of fun with it:
“Some have said we’ve gone from loving hot pants to having hot flashes but nothing could be farther from the truth, “said Southwest’s CEO Gary Kelly. “The publicity caught us with our pants down, quite frankly. The story has such great legs, but we have an even better sense of humor, so we’re going to jump out there and lower our fares to match the mini skirts we’ve all been hearing so much about.”
Most big corporates aren’t “big enough” to make fun of themselves, and do so quickly.
Don’t be boring. Don’t be slow. Make lemonade when you screw up, and do it quickly.