Every company screws up at some point. Big mistake or little, both happen, because, hello, companies are comprised of humans.
Few mistakes, however, are as epic as PWC’s fail at the Oscars. In five excruciating minutes, it had every ingredient for its own Oscar – for “Most Facial Expressions in One Room, Ever.”
The word “crisis,” used in business to describe any sort of mess, doesn’t fully capture it, does it? In a flash, a company’s decades-old reputation for world-class, ultra-nerd level accounting persnickety-ness became the butt of a huge international joke.
And yet, of course, the best-picture mix-up was a crisis, and it is now PWC’s to win or lose.
Yes, we believe PWC could actually turn this mess into a victory. A big one.
How? It could join the laughter.
Because here’s the thing about PWC’s Oscars flub. It was just that, a flub. No one died; no one lost their home. We’re not talking about poisoned aspirin, faulty braking systems, or corrupt lending practices. We’re not talking about evidence something is rotten to the core with PWC’s fundamental competencies. No, we’re talking about a very silly black-tie event having a scene at the end which gave everyone something hilarious to talk about at work Monday morning.
Sure, PWC has to acknowledge something unfortunate happened. Those poor people from La La Land who gave their acceptance speeches may need an extra-long stay at Chateau Marmont to recover. But while it does the crucial work of repairing the broken practices that led to its mistake on Sunday night, PWC might also embrace its unwanted publicity juggernaut as a huge opportunity to show its humanity. How often does that happen for a company, let alone an accounting firm? PWC might, for instance, run an ad campaign about the event that plays off movies themes. We’re liking a Love Storyreference, perhaps, as in, “PWC: In our case, love does mean having to say you’re sorry.” Or how about a Terminator trope? Something like, “We’ll be back – only better.”
In business, very few crises give you the chance to join the fray and gently poke fun at yourself. But the truth is, most people love a good loser, and will root for them to win again.