How Crock-Pot Reclaimed its Brand after This is Us Created a Crisis

Sep 24, 2018

This is Us returns for a third season on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 9 p.m. Fresh off an Emmy win and a handful of nominations, the popular show is frequently praised for its focus on family values and emotional storytelling that pulls at viewers’ heart strings.

One storyline last season left viewers devastated when a popular character died in a tragic accident caused by a malfunctioning Crock-Pot, creating considerable collateral damage for the brand.

Wrongly Accused

Crock-Pot suddenly found itself in the middle of a media crisis. Some fans blamed the brand for a beloved character’s death and others questioned the safety of its products based on fictional events. National news outlets ran with the story, and viewers took to social media claiming to have thrown away their Crock-Pots. One woman removed the slow cooker from her wedding registry.

Crock-Pot was quick to react and created an entire campaign around shifting the narrative. With the help of PR juggernaut Edelman, it created a social media push around #crockpotisinnocent (Crock-Pot didn’t even have a Twitter account prior to the crisis).

The Benefits of Well-Timed Partnerships

The brand partnered with Ellen, who promoted Crock-Pot on her show by giving away free slow cookers. It also teamed up with This is Us actor Milo Ventimiglia, who played Jack on the show. He issued the first ever apology by a TV actor, making amends with Crock-Pot and promoting #crockpotisinnocent. His message came just before one the biggest days of the year for Crock-Pot – Super Bowl Sunday.

With a quick response, the right tone and some clever partnerships, Crock-Pot was able to control the message and take part in the story. Fans have even created decals for Crock-Pots with tongue-in-cheek safety reminders based on the show. Maybe since Jack was able to forgive the Crock-Pot, viewers could too.

Long Story Short: You can’t always control what’s said about your brand, but you can control how you react. When faced with a potential PR crisis, Crock-Pot refused to let the narrative of a television show drive the narrative of its brand. #crockpotisinnocent

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Max Derham.

Liked this? Please share!

New logo for Long Story Short, the Braithwaite Communications weekly newsletter.

If you like this article, you'll love our newsletter.

We'll send you a great true story with a useful business lesson every Monday.

Thanks! You'll receive a welcome email soon. (It might go to your Junk, Clutter or Promotions folder.)