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3 Brands That Lost Control and Had To Fix It
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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From ketchup to baseball to the nightly news, you’re never too big to get stung by a mess up, thus forcing the corporate team to come up with a bit of PR and an apology.

Here are three very recent examples.

Saucy Heinz bottle

Ketchup manufacturer Heinz was forced to apologise after a digital barcode on one of its bottles directed a customer to a pornographic website.

Daniel Korell, an IT worker living in Germany, used his smartphone to scan a quick response code, or QR code, on a bottle of ketchup to find out more information about a promotional campaign.

However, rather than taking him to an official Heinz site, the code routed him to a German webpage featuring adult photographs of naked women.

Mr. Korell tried the code with several other smartphones and found it continued to direct him to the site.

Heinz said the code directed customers to a website that had been used for a competition that had run between 2012 and 2014, but the domain name had since been allowed to lapse.

In a statement on Facebook, the company said: “For this reason, the printed QR-code does not lead to our site. Therefore, unfortunately, we cannot control what page is displayed instead.”

Heinz later offered Mr. Korell a bottle of ketchup with a personalised label (even though the promotion had finished) and a tepid apology.

“We very much regret the incident and gladly take up your suggestions for the implementation of future campaigns,” said Heinz.

I instantly liked it!

Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval admitted that he used his smartphone to 'like' a woman's Instagram photograph during a baseball game.

Sandoval admitted to 'liking' two pictures on an Instagram account belonging to 'diva_legacy' while the team batted in the 7th inning against the Atlanta Braves. The Sox later lost the game 5-2.

The 28-year-old player, who was in violation of MLB rules that prohibit the use of electronics from 30 minutes before the start of a game to the end of the game, was benched by the team for its next game.  

Sandoval later apologized: “I'm a human being. I made a mistake, so I apologize to my teammates, to the team, to the organization and to the fans.”

Porky pies driven by ego

Brian Williams may be back at NBC, but not to the coveted Nightly News anchor spot, after being caught out telling a series of  “things that weren’t true,” according to Williams himself.

“I own up to this,” he told NBC’s Matt Lauer.

“Looking back it had to have been ego that made me think I had to be sharper, funnier, quicker than anybody else,' said Williams.

NBC was forced to remove him from his post and investigate, revealing this week that “all the false claims made by Williams were not made as he anchored Nightly News, but rather during other appearances like speeches and late night talk show interviews.”

After a five-month suspension from NBC Nightly News, the network announced it was not returning Williams to his previous position, but sending him to the far less prestigious MSNBC.

He later added; “I am a grateful person. I am fully aware of the second chance I have been given. I don't intend to squander it.”

He even said he would go 'door-to-door' to apologize to viewers if he could. 


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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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