Brands love product placements. The perfect product placement can do wonders for introducing a new audience to brand or gain a brand new attention. One famous example of this is the relationship between Hershey and ET. When Mars passed on the chance to have M&Ms featured in the film, the path was cleared for Hershey and Reese’s Pieces. Within two weeks of the film’s release, Reese’s Pieces sales tripled. But what happens when a brand doesn’t ask for a product placement and that placement kills a beloved TV character? Crock-Pot recently found out when one of their devices was the cause of the fire that killed American’s most beloved father, Jack Pearson, on This Is Us.
This Is Us became America’s new favorite TV show in September of 2016. With emotional twists to rival those in Shondaland (Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder) and the lovable likeness of Parenthood, Americans fell in love with the Pearson family and the show that followed them on the journey of life. It was revealed in the first season that Jack Pearson, the father, had passed away tragically before the Pearson children went away to college and that his absence greatly impacted them years later. Through flashbacks, viewers got a sense of who Jack was and began to fall more and more in love with the character. As season 1 continued, Americans became more and more curious about how the beloved father met his demise.
Americans got their answer on January 23rd, 2018. Viewers watched as Jack went about cleaning the kitchen, turned off the Crock-Pot, tidied up the rest of the home, turned off the light in the living room, said goodnight to the dog, and threw a red towel up against the Crock-Pot. After turning out the lights and going to bed, viewers see the day the Pearsons’ were gifted the Crock-Pot and the original owner telling them about the wonky switch. It is only then that viewers watched in horror as the Pearson family home catches fire as the family sleeps on, unaware that anything is amiss.
Backlash for Crock-Pot began swiftly after the episode as Crock-Pot owners reached for their Crock-Pots to deposit them safely in the trash. Backlash continued on social media flooding both Twitter and Facebook with messages about #JusticeForJack and promises to never use their Crock-Pot again.
Crock-Pot acted quickly to attempt to put out the firestorm around them and their beloved slow cookers. Previously not on Twitter, Crock-Pot created the Twitter handle @crockpotcares to respond to frightened Crock-Pot owners and those placing blame on the company for killing off their favorite character. They began using hashtags like #TrustTheCrock and #CrockPotIsInnocent to help dispel fear and garner support for the brand. Dan Fogelman, writer and producer for This Is Us, even took to Twitter to remind fans of the show that “it was a 20 year old fictional crockpot with an already funky switch”.
On Facebook, Crock-Pot continued to respond to comments from scared Crock-Pot users to help assure them that the trusted Crock-Pot they had been using was perfectly safe. Crock-Pot also responded thanking dedicated Crock-Pot fans for their continued support. While some responses were the same, they tried to personalize each message and tied in something about This Is Us and Jack Pearson to try to connect with scared fans. Crock-Pot issued a statement January 25th on Facebook two days after the episode aired to try to stop the spread of the Crock-Pot disaster and reassure fans that Crock-Pots were safe to use.
The faulty Crock-Pot was a shock to many This Is Us fans and an even bigger shock to Crock-Pot. From their first response to a negative review, it is clear Crock-Pot was unware of the firestorm headed their way and were innocently sleeping while social media went into a frenzy. When they awoke from their peaceful slumber they took action to attempt to put out the firestorm directed at them. Crock-Pot was quick to get themselves on Twitter and replied to a handful of Tweets directed at their brand. They continued this strategy mainly on Facebook where they had more of an established presence and were better equipped to handle the amount of fallout coming their way.
While Crock-Pot did a great job quickly handling an unforeseen situation, they could have responded quicker and more efficiently if they had had the right tools in their arsenal from the start. Having software that listens for brand name mentions can help quickly identify references and let the responsible party respond quickly through one platform. Some programs even offer suggested responses that can help speed up response time and give the person managing social media something to work with.
Crock-Pot still needs to stay on their toes as another wave of Crock-Pot-hating could be on the way when the next episode airs after the Big Game. Good Luck Crock-Pot. We hope you use more than just Facebook in the future.