Is it too late to say sorry now?

Is it too late to say sorry now?

Apologies seem to be all the rage these days. Justin Bieber titled a song “Sorry.” Adele crooned about apologizing in her latest hit. And now customers are demanding that two major companies apologize for recent actions.

When Starbucks recently unveiled its plain red cup, for example, customers cried foul. Many declared that the company’s unadorned cup waged a “war on Christmas.”

Then, Bloomingdale’s released a controversial ad with the caption “spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Aghast consumers took to twitter to express their shock that the ad passed through the editing process.

So did these businesses apologize, and did they need to? In Starbucks’ case, the controversy actually prompted customers to scramble to the stores, buy drinks, and write “Merry Christmas” on the cups. So the company just released a statement explaining its decision to use a “simple” design.

But for Bloomingdale’s, the disgust surrounding the ad prompted the company to issue a swift apology.

It’s tricky to know whether a social media backlash requires a PR apology. After all, apologizing doesn’t necessarily make a company a top hit with fans. But if a company does apologize, it should be quick and sincere in delivering one, like Bloomingdale’s did. And if companies decide not to apologize, they could release a statement explaining their choice, as did Starbucks.

It’ll be interesting to see, though, what design Starbucks brews up for next year’s cup.

Katie Behrman