Big Bird Apologizes

We see it all the time. Athletes, celebrities and politicians caught in embarrassing, compromising or downright felonious situations. Rarely is it a victimless crime; someone has been harmed or wronged. The public makes sport of speculating as to what really happened and why the act was committed.

Regardless of what we think the punishment should be, we demand an apology. Often we are disappointed when said apology is delivered: the half-hearted mumbling, the attempt to place blame on others or the equally flaccid “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”

This isn’t about those creatures who relish the glare of the spotlight, however – the Miley Cyruses and Anthony Weiners. I’m thinking of a product or a brand and what happens when said company owns up to a mistake. We may be ambivalent about or even unaware of said brand until we see the apology. What happens then is magical. We find ourselves not only thinking of that brand but starting to admire it – like the song that grows on you the more you hear it.

I came across something downright charming the other day. It wasn’t an admission of any epic proportion – rather, it was a self-effacing apology for a victimless “crime.” Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, posted this notice on its web site when it failed to fulfill its promise of a sale on iTunes apps. Here it is in case you don’t want to click to the site:

From September 13th to 15th, we intended to run a special three-day sale in the iTunes App Store. “Intended” is the operative word there, because we made a mistake somehow. Everything went wrong, Sesame Street Muppet chickens went crazy, Telly lost his triangle, Cookie Monster ran out of cookies, and most importantly, the three-day sale only lasted two days. The Count is very upset with us — he really wanted to count to three! (ah ha ha).
So to make it up to him (and all of you who thought you were getting discounted stuff, but weren’t), tomorrow, Saturday September 21st, we’re running a one-day, line-wide, Sesame Street app sale! Click here to open the iTunes App Store and see all of our apps!
It’s tough to harbor ill will toward Sesame Street after you read that. You’re more than willing to forgive because – let’s face it – Big Bird & Co. have amassed a mountain of goodwill over the years. The message is appropriate and reflects the brand. Heck, it’s fun. Not to say you can excuse an egregious violation of law or ethics with a whimsical haiku or limerick. Like the punishment fitting the crime, the apology must fit the transgression.    

Thank you, Sesame Street. You never stop teaching us things.

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