Toyota, Tylenol, and How One “Bachelor” Contestant Could Use Promotional Products in Her Everyday Life

vvvracerOn Monday night’s episode of “The Bachelor: The Women Tell All,”* Southern Belle and single mother Ella commented on the behavior of fellow bachelorette (and also the instigator of much of this season’s drama), Vienna, by saying:

“She would do and say things she would not think about before she did them. She may be sorry for them later, but then if you continue that after ‘I’m sorrys,’ it’s not going to fly.”

At the time, I paused and pondered Ella’s statement. Although perhaps not the most eloquently put version of a value that I have been taught from a young age, her honesty and simple interpretation of why Vienna lost her credibility were refreshing. “I’m sorry” can be a powerful phrase, but overusing it may cause the listener to become skeptical of the apologetic individual or party’s sincerity.

A recent BrandWeek article about Millward Brown’s list of “most trusted and recommended brands” brought to light a shining example of the impact of apologies in the corporate world. The list is based on the survey responses of over 20,000 U.S. consumers at the end of 2009. Tylenol, ranked 6th on the list, happens to have had numerous recalls over the years, including one in 2009, the year in which the data for this study was collected. Eileen Campbell, global CEO of Millward Brown, explained the company’s high ranking by saying, “Doing well in a crisis actually builds trust.”

Toyota, number 7 on the list, only began facing scrutiny in early 2010 regarding the safety of their vehicles, so I am curious to see how the established car manufacturer’s trust rating will fare among consumers in the future. Personally, I think Toyota’s crisis recovery efforts have been outstanding, and by admitting their lapses in quality assurance and promising to improve, they have already begun to regain the respect of many consumers. Think about how you react after you make a mistake: I know that I am overly cautious because of fear of repeating the same error. I guess only time will tell if Toyota will exhibit the same staying power as Tylenol.

As for Vienna, I think her actions have alienated the vast majority of Bachelor viewers, but hey, she still has a chance to get the guy! Maybe he will be more receptive to her apologies than Ella and the rest of her former housemates; if all else fails, she could try imprinting the words “I’m sorry” on promotional products as tokens of her on-going remorse instead of just saying them time and again. :)

* As many of my coworkers know, I tune into a variety of reality shows, from “Say Yes to the Dress,” to “The Real Housewives of ____” (you could fill in practically any city name/season and chances are I have seen the majority of the episodes), to, I’m almost ashamed to admit, “The Bachelor.” Although not the most mentally stimulating, hopefully this blog has proven reality tv’s capacity to teach valuable life lessons to unassuming viewers like myself.

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