In “The Biggest Corporate Image Catastrophes” on Investopedia.com’s Financial Edge, writer Stephen Simpson, CFA discusses several corporate blunders that got past the “well-greased PR machine of the corporate world.”
Some are more recent than others. How many do you remember?
1. BP: Tone-deaf comments from the now-former CEO quickly led to a thundering backlash after the recent well explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
2. Goldman Sachs: Goldman was allegedly misleading some of its customers, paying huge bonuses and essentially lecturing the government on how things ought to be. Goldman did not do anything new or anything that its peers have not done – it was just clumsy enough to do it in front of microphones at precisely the time when the public wanted contrition and modesty.
3. Toyota: After laughable excuses for a problem with a sticky accelerator in some models, including blaming the floor mats, Toyota ultimately acknowledged the problem and launched a recall. But in waiting so long to fess up to the problem, Toyota lost its gold-plated reputation as being a better kind of car company.
4. The “Big Three” (Ford, Chrysler, General Motors): After being bailed out of bankruptcy with tax payers’ dollars, auto industry executives made their job even harder when they flew to Washington, D.C. – aboard private jets – to plead their poverty in front of the Congress.
5. JetBlue: On a snowy Valentine’s Day in 2007, JetBlue kept several plane loads of passengers sitting on the tarmac for hours – with one plane being held captive for nine hours.
6. Abercrombie & Fitch: The youth retailer has been in hot water with the public for print ads, questionable taste, racist t-shirts, or company hiring policies that put the less-than-beautiful people in the back room.
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