When “This is Us” killed off Jack Pearson, played by Milo Ventimiglia, it was no surprise to viewers. His death had been discussed for much of the series. But the cause remained a mystery. That is, until an episode showed that a fire started by faulty wiring on an old slow cooker led Jack to die, and instantly led to a brand crisis for Crock-Pot.
As soon as the Jan. 23 episode aired, fans of the hit show were furious and proclaimed on social media that they would be throwing out their Crock-Pots.
The company, an Edelman client, initially reacted by saying it should sue NBC, Mark Renshaw, global chair of the brand practice at Edelman, said at the Ad Age Survival Summit. Instead, Edelman saw an opportunity for Crock-Pot to respond in creative and strategic ways, as Renshaw explains. From a public apology issued in a video from Ventimiglia to #CrockPotIsInnocent signs outside NBC’s “Today Show,” the conversation began to shift in a matter of days. People even started selling decals for Crock-Pots on Etsy with lines such as “Don’t forget to unplug me, Love, Jack.”
“Sales actually rebounded. Not only did we restore the brand and restore the reputation and trust, but we got, actually, a sales lift out of it,” Renshaw said at the Ad Age Survival Summit, showing that sales increased $300,892 in February.