American luxury car brand Cadillac made a huge splash in the sea of PR crises over the weekend, after a casting call for one of its commercials tried to recruit members of the white nationalist alt-right movement.
The Cast Station, a film and TV casting company issued a casting notice looking for “any and all REAL Alt-Right believers/thinkers” for a commercial called “Cadillac – Real People.”
“This is a beautifully artistic spot that is capturing all walks of life of America. Standing together as a union. This is not meant to be offensive in anyway. Just a representation of all sides. Thank you,” the ad noted.
After being republished by Reuters, the casting call spread across social media like wildfire igniting a firestorm of outrage:
— gina young (@ohginayoung) December 10, 2016
— Samantha Tan (@Samantha_Tan) December 10, 2016
To its credit, the General Motors brand and its PR team acted quickly, publicly disavowing the casting call on its social media pages:
— Cadillac (@Cadillac) December 10, 2016
It appears that responsibility for the PR crisis lies with The Cast Station, which issued an apology on its Facebook page, saying that the ad was “issued by mistake,” and the employee who drafted it was “immediately terminated.”
Still, the damage to Cadillac’s reputation was done, and the brand now faces a long road to recovery in order to balance out tons of negative press it received over the past few days.
On a positive note, however, said reputational damage could have been much more extensive, should Cadillac not have had its crisis PR team at the ready, immediately springing into action and mitigating the situation as it developed.
The main takeaway here is that no matter where the responsibility lies, no company is immune to PR crises. And the only way to ensure that one mistake by an employee or an independent contractor doesn’t reduce your brand’s reputation to ruin is to have proper crisis PR protocols in place and a team of experienced professionals who can help navigate you through uncertainty at a time of crisis.