Rebuilding Brands: Three Major Players Embrace Mistakes to Gain Back Consumer Trust


Jacqueline Gogel


They’re almost inescapable—the subway, in between news cycles on CNN, and even hidden in plain sight on your newsfeed. For a casual one billion of us across the world, Facebook has seeped its way deep into our daily existence; but this time, the social media giant is putting itself in the limelight in a different capacity: advertisements.

Shortly after its scandal with Cambridge Analytica, Mark Zuckerberg took to Capitol Hill to rebuild consumer trust and discuss the importance of data privacy for Facebook’s users. The PR crisis didn’t exactly blow over immediately, but it would’ve been easy enough for the company to lay low for a while until one of its competitors misstepped. Instead, Zuckerberg and his team did quite the opposite.

Through a series of digital, TV, and transit ads, the “Here Together” campaign takes us back to the days when Facebook was, truly, just about our friends before “something happened.” The ad doesn’t mince words: it goes on to call out that “something” as spam, clickbait and data misuse.

“That’s about to change,” the ad promises.

While only time will tell if that promise holds true, it’s worth noting that Facebook isn’t alone in its efforts to own its mistake. Following an onslaught of sexism and sexual harassment allegations, a series of investigations, and rampant leadership turnover, Uber is embracing its blunders and seeking to grow consumer trust through a similar campaign.

The “Moving Forward” ad features the company’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi promising a better experience for customers and an improved company culture.

“One of our core values as a company is to always do the right thing,” he said. And while Khosrowshahi isn’t exactly as explicit as Zuckerberg in what the wrong thing was, anyone who’s watched the news over the past year can surmise to what he’s referring.

And last but not least is Wells Fargo. The financial services company went through a “20-month nightmare” of scandal after scandal, including the creation of fake accounts, unfair mortgage rates and manipulating customers into purchasing unneeded car insurance. Taking a page out of the PR crisis book of Uber and Facebook, Wells Fargo launched the “Re-Established” campaign.

The series of ads appears on TV, as well as print and digital, and reference Wells Fargo’s position as an industry leader during the California gold rush. And, like Facebook, the company goes so far as to explicitly recognize what went wrong, showing a newspaper headline reading “What’s Happening at Wells Fargo?” and noting the end of product sales goals for branch bankers.

Facebook, Uber and Wells Fargo seem committed to regaining consumer trust —but is the public buying any of it? The ads for each embattled brand have only been in market for about a month, so it’s too early to tell whether the transparency campaigns are effective. Vested plans to follow each company on its journey to redemption and take a pulse on customer opinion and loyalty down the road.

Stay tuned!