The Three Most Interesting Crisis Case Studies from 2019

Business Meeting

So, what can we learn from other people’s problems in 2019?

There’s always the good and the bad as you watch a brand in the spotlight struggle to contain a crisis which threatens to engulf its reputation and business.

Here’s our top three learning moments from crises that unfolded in 2019:

  • Boeing & the 737 Max

This is the one that they will still be using as a case study in college classrooms ten years from now.

We first featured the crisis in a blog in April:  

It’s fair to say that the company has never recovered from its miss-steps in those crucial first few days and weeks after the second crash involving its 737 Max aircraft, especially as it broke the number one rule of crisis management in the digital age – the need to be fast and effective. 

First there was a resounding silence and then, at best, Boeing offered partial explanations and accountability for what turned out to be a known and chronic problem with the plane. 

In December, the decision was taken to temporarily halt production of the troubled jet, which prompted a Wall Street Journal story criticizing Boeing’s handling of the tragic saga from start to finish.

  • Capital One & the Data Breach

This one is interesting for all sorts of reasons, but not least for its reminder that this most ubiquitous of threats for virtually every organization in the country is now taking new forms.

Cloud computing was supposed to remove many of the risks and vulnerabilities. 

But maybe not. 

We wrote in an August blog about how a rogue former employee at Amazon’s web services unit was behind the attack.

The Capital One breach was revealed at the time that Equifax popped up with more announcements about how it is still trying to repair the trust it lost after its huge data loss in 2017, which it handled very badly.

To underline how you cannot be complacent about the ever-present and evolving threats to IT security, the 3rd edition of our expert-authored e-book, ‘The New Rules of Crisis Management’, featured a fascinating chapter on how to protect an organization.

  • Peloton & the Strange Commercial

This one is still fresh in the memory as it began in the run-up to Christmas.

And even now, with the benefit of a few weeks’ hindsight, it’s still not possible to state with any clarity that it was a crisis at all!

Some of the outraged citizens of the Internet might think so – but Peloton does not.

It was all hugely entertaining, with the actors who appeared in the original, highly scrutinized 30-second commercial joining in. The female lead, Monica Ruiz, appeared as the Peloton wife in a spoof ad created by the actor Ryan Reynolds.

What’s the lesson for the rest of us?

Don’t over-react to internet noise, even if some of it is negative.

As Nike and Patagonia have shown us before  you have to know your own brand and your customer-base. 

Noise coming from elsewhere might not be harming you and might even be motivating to your core buyers. 

Use the data and analytics that the web offers to make informed decisions about how to manage an issue.