Breaking Crisis: AppSumo’s Bad Joke

Will a tasteless statement lead to reputation damage?

[4/25/2016 – 9:26 am]

We’re often writing about situations in the past, but today we have the opportunity to look at a still-evolving crisis. Yesterday, product promotion site AppSumo posted a listing for a phone stand which included an inexplicable crack at Parkinson’s disease (talk about someone who could use AvoidTheApology.com…)

AppSumo parkinsons ad

As could be expected, offended readers posted screencaps of the ad to social media and began to spread it through their networks. By late evening, tweets like the below sporting the @appsumo tag and expressions of outrage began to pour in:

Shortly after, AppSumo changed the copy, but of course it lives on through the many shares and saved images now whirling around the web.

Now for the crisis management. There were couple of semi-official responses on the page itself, shared below,

One, in the page copy, reads:

Update: We have removed a joke about Michael J. Fox from this page and deeply apologize to anyone we may have offended with this line. It was 100% not our intention and we will do all that we can to rectify the situation. Once again, our deepest apologies and we promise to do better next time.

The designer of the product, who appears to have had no part in the offending copy, posted a response in the comments section as well:

Rambod AppSumo statement

As of the time of this writing AppSumo has yet to post any statement on its social media profiles, nor is it responding to stakeholders who are sharing their outrage. We certainly expect to see a response appear there at some point in the near future and will update this post as it happens.

[Update 1:15 pm]

AppSumo has begun posting what we consider to be a quality response on its social media profiles. See below.

AppSumo response

A genuine apology, making clear they know where the mistake happened, sharing how they will prevent it from happening again, and going above and beyond by donating proceeds to a related foundation makes this a great example of crisis management done right. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you recover that shows what you’re really made of. AppSumo is displaying serious character and responsibility with this response, and should gain respect in the eyes of stakeholders as a result.

The BCM Blogging Team
www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com

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