JC Penney – The Teapot Crisis

Crises come in all different forms; some are big, some are small, but if they aren’t handled well any crisis, no matter the size, could damage a company’s reputation. In today’s world, social media is a huge component to crisis management, and if utilized correctly, it can benefit the company and help manage the crisis effectively. One example of a company that utilized social media to squash a crisis was JC Penney, when they had to deal with their teapot that bared a striking resemblance to Hitler.

How did it all began? According to this article, in 2013 a user on Reddit (a social bookmarking site) jokingly posted about this billboard of a teapot, saying it vaguely resembled Adolf Hitler.

The-Hitler-Kettle

*Image courtesy of www.powerretail.com.au

Even though it was a joke, the image quickly blew up and soon it was all over the internet. People from all around the world were talking about the seemingly offensive teapot. According to USA today, people were responding with messages such as “It’s easier to see Hitler than the kettle.” The Telegraph even tweeted a news article about it, which forced JC Penney to take action.

Telegraph_hitler_teapot

*Image courtesy of http://blog.spinweb.net

Even though this “crisis” doesn’t seem like a big deal, JC Penney had to respond in order to preserve their reputation as a brand. They decided to respond via social media, since that was how the crisis all began. However, they had to wisely choose how to respond. On one hand, they did not want to take themselves too seriously since most people were talking about the teapot in a joking manner. However, if handled inappropriately, this small crisis could turn into a much bigger deal.

JC Penney thus responded to hundreds of tweets about the teapot with a light-hearted response that conveyed the message, while still being humorous. They also took the billboard of the teapot down.

JCPenney_tweets

*Image courtesy of http://blog.spinweb.net

Did it solve the problem? Yes, it did. In fact, a few days after the social media storm, the teapot was sold out on the JC Penney website. According to USA Today, people were even selling the teapots on eBay, pricing them at over $200.

Thus, the crisis was averted and JC Penney could breathe easy. Their quick response helped turn the “crisis” into a non-issue, and they even had a rise in sales. What could they have done better? Perhaps they could have made more personalized messages to each user, but their strategy was effective too, as they were able to reach a large amount of people very quickly. Well done JC Penney!

But really…who knew a simple teapot could cause so much commotion?

Michael-Graves-Stainless-Steel-Tea-Kettle-JCPenney-Hitler

*Image courtesy of www.redesignrevolution.com

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