Video Maker Apology for Trademark Filing that Outraged the Internet

Internet Outrage™ strikes again.

Apology Index could keep busy 24/7 solely tracking apologies by people who have in some way gotten on the wrong side of the Online Internet Mob™. Sometimes it’s a Twitter Mob™, sometimes a Reddit Mob™, sometimes a Facebook Mob™, sometimes all of the above. (Though rarely is there a LinkedIn Mob™).

In this case, coming late to the party and never having heard of this online outrage until it was all over, AI if this is a case of outrage overreach™ or trademark overreach™ or a little of both. But let’s dive in.

You know those “[Members of X Group] reacts to [Something Members of X Group Would Normally Never Pay Attention To Because It Really Isn’t Targeted To Them Anyway] videos” that friends post in your Facebook feed? Yes, we’ve all seen them. Here’s an example: Elders React to Batman vs Superman Trailer.


Actor Chris Pratt Pre-Apology

Chriss Pratt eyes up reuters
December 4, 2014. Chris Pratt attends the GQ 2014 Men of the Year Party in West Hollywood, California. (Reuters)

The contest for Apology of the Year is over. The rest of you can go home.

Actor Chris Pratt (of Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, and some TV show I’ve never seen) recently issued the following “pre-apology” on his Facebook page for whatever transgressions he may commit during the press junket for his upcoming film about runaway dinosaurs: (more…)

Avengers Apologize! Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner apologies for insulting Black Widow

Black Widow
Black Widow demonstrates the classic three-point landing.

Avengers: Age of Ultron debuts today in the USA and two cast members got themselves in a bit of hot water while promoting the picture this week. Via International Business Times “Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans Apologize For Black Widow Comments After ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Interview”:

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans apologized after they made offensive comments about the character Black Widow. The actors were being interviewed by Digital Spy when they were asked what they thought about the comic book heroine (played by Scarlett Johansson) being with Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk). Many fans were upset with their responses.”

Please note — Jeremy (who plays the Avenger Hawkeye) and Chris (who portrays Captain America) got in trouble for offensive comments made about the entirely fictional character Black Widow.

They did not insult Scarlett Johansson, the actress who plays Black Widow (aka Natalia Romanova aka Natasha Romanoff) Who would do that? Ever?

Their comments were directed at the fictional character — and that’s what got them in trouble. This may be a first for Apology Index.

So what did our trash-talking thespians say that was so bad? Read on… (more…)

All Apologies, All the Time

Like the cicadas which burrow into the ground to sleep for years at a time, only to emerge at the appointed time and descend like a plague, Apology Index is back after a long hiatus.

Your Apologist apologizes for his long absence. I know there have been many spectacular apologies over the last five years in dire need of comment and analysis. We may do an Apology Flashback or two to cover the biggest apologies we’ve missed, but with an endless gushing stream of new misdeeds, grievances, and regrets to cover, that probably won’t happen often.

For those who came in late, Apology Index covered the world of public apologies from 2007-2009, dissecting the apologies of companies, celebrities, athletes, politicians, governments, and others. Our aim is to both enlighten and entertain, with an occasional nod at being thoughtful and deep about the philosophical and practical issues of regret and forgiveness.

But not too deep.


Helen Thomas Non-Apology Apology for Hateful Anti-Semitic Comments

Helen Thomas has been in the White House press room longer than I’ve been alive — and probably longer than you’ve been alive. She’s certainly been there too long — and every day that passes is another day too long. She’s a bitter, hateful woman, as she so charmingly made clear with her recent statement that the Jews in Israel should “Get the hell out of Palestine” and go back “home” to Germany or Poland. Video:<br />

Unbelievable. While I’m sure the boys at Hamas and the nearest skinhead rally found her comments spot on, batty Helen has been pretty roundly condemned by most decent people, leading to her invevitable, and, quite grudging “apology”: (more…)

Tiger Woods Apology for Serial Adultery

With the many, many cats now out of the bag, Tiger takes his third swing at an apology for his multiple infidelities, with a statement on his website:

I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity
has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want
to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask
forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but
I want to do my best to try.

I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good
people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow
competitors, for their understanding. What’s most important now is that
my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for
personal healing.

After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite
break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a
better husband, father, and person.

Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially
grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during
this difficult period.

AI is a little rusty, but let’s take a crack at it. Tiger admits his wrongdoing (without going into the lurid details that we can all find elsewhere) and asks forgiveness. So those are points in his favor, but this comes off weak nonetheless. For one thing, it is a statement on a website. Tiger himself has disappeared from public view since his cheating ways came to light. This apology won’t quiet the storm. He will probably have to appear and speak the words in person for an apology to take.

So, at least, say William C. Rhoden at the NY Times and John “Effective Apology” Kador.

A few random thoughts:

  • Who does he really owe an apology to? His wife and family. Presumably that happened in private and is none of our business.
  • Why is he apologizing to the world at large? I didn’t care much about Tiger before this, and don’t care much about him now, so he doesn’t owe — or probably you — an apology. But it seems to have become a given that if you’re a celebrity of any stripe, and you screw up, you owe the world an apology.
  • Ok, there are a few sets beyond his family that he owes an apology.  Tiger mentions them. Business partners, his foundation, the PGA Tour, and others who will be financially harmed by his tarnished image. By damaging the “Tiger Woods” brand he has done actual harm to the interests of people beyond himself. Fair enough.
  • Prediction: We’ll be hearing another apology from Tiger before this story ends.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Apology for Kindle-Big Brother Incident

Last week owners of the Amazon Kindle ebook reader got a chilling taste of Big Brotherism when Amazon — without warning — remotely deleted previously purchased copies of several titles from their devices. Had the book in question been Pride & Prejudice this would not have been as big of a story/public relations nightmare as it turned out to be for Amazon. But the books in question were probably the worst possible titles to have involved in such an incident — 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Yeah. So as you can imagine, the headlines practically wrote themselves:

Why Amazon went Big Brother on some Kindle e-books

Hey, Big Brother! Hands off my Kindle!

Amazon Kindle users surprised by ‘Big Brother’ move

And so forth. Twitter was all a twitter about it too. Amazon’s explanation was that the publisher of these Orwell e-books lacked the right to publish the books. When the true rights holder brought this to Amazon’s attention, Amazon removed the illegal copies from its site — properly — and also reached out in the dead of night to electronically remove copies from the devices of sleeping Kindle owners. In this (as President Obama might agree if he were so foolish as to comment on matters not pertaining to doing his job),  Amazon acted stupidly.

The explanation did little to mollify outraged Kindle owners and others concerned about Orwellian overreach. After all, if customers had previously purchased what turned out to be bootleg copies of a hardback edition of 1984, Amazon would hardly break into customers’ houses in the middle of the night to retrieve them. At least one hopes not.

Yesterday, on the Kindle owners forum at, CEO Jeff Bezos issued a brief apology:

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

With deep apology to our customers,

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO

This is a good corporate apology. Maybe a bit late. But Bezos speaks in his own name and straight up says we were stupid, we deserve your scorn, we violated our own principles in this matter, and we have learned from our mistake. Bezos says more in one paragraph than some corporate apologizers manage in several pages. (Go look up that GM disaster again.)

Well done, Bezos. But I’m still not buying a Kindle.

STRATFOR Apology for Technical Glitch

Here is a great example of an apology done right, from STRATFOR. A couple of days ago STRATFOR sent an email to subscribers, inviting them to take survey. Apparently there was a problem with the survey. Shortly thereafter, STRATFOR sent out the following:

Dear STRATFOR Reader:

My apologies. We’ve had technical and content problems with the survey we just released, and it’s apparent to us that it should never have gone out in its present form. If you’ve not yet tried to take the survey, please disregard my prior email invitation. If you’ve already attempted to take the survey, please forgive me for having wasted your time. This was poorly executed on our end, and I apologize again.

I’ll see all replies to this email, and you can also call my direct line at xxx-xxx-xxxx with any questions.

Thank you for your understanding.

Very truly yours,
Aaric Eisenstein, SVP Publishing

This is about as close to the gold standard of a corporate apology as you can get. First, it was immediate–sent out as soon as STRATFOR confirmed that there was a problem. It comes directly from the responsible corporate officer, over his signature [literally, an image of his signature that I did not reproduce here] and in his own voice. Mr. Eisenstein apologizes, describes the problem, admits fault, asks readers’ forgiveness for wasting our time, again admits fault and apologizes. Then he invites readers to email him or call his direct line if you want to vent about it. [I redacted the number. You don’t need to call him.]. It’s almost like he read John Kador’s book.

But I don’t think STRATFOR needed apology advice. Their business is providing global intelligence, analyzing geopolitical events, evaluating political risk factors, etc. STRATFOR’s stock in trade is telling it like it is to the best of their ability. This technical glitch is a minor thing that may have irritated and frustrated some readers — but they turned it into an opportunity to reinforce their reputation, brand image, good name, or whatever you want to call it. This is exactly how you’d expect STRATFOR to respond — own up, apologize, fix it, move on. An A+ apology in anyone’s book!

Alice Hoffman Apology for Psycho Twitter Rage

Author Alice Hoffman — whoever that is — apparently has a new book out, “The Story Sisters.” And if you don’t absolutely love it, she will go psycho-crazy on you, publish your phone number, and urge her legions of fans of whatever kind of fiction it is she writes to harass you.

Roberta Silman wrote a less than glowing, but far from trashing, review of “The Story Sisters” for the Boston Globe. Hoffman responded by calling her a “moron” on Twitter. Then she proceeded to have a public tweet-by-tweet meltdown. In the end, someone must have talked her off the ledge, because her Twitter feed is now gone. But good old reliable Gawker kindly preserved some of the choicest Hoffman rage tweets.

The LA Times has a roundup of the author rage story, as does — of course — the Boston Globe itself. The Globe interviews Ms. Silman about the incident. She comes across as classy, gracious, and unperturbed by the whole thing. I declare her the winner.

You can review the facts at those links. No need for me to retype them, right? Let’s get to the apology:

This statement was issued by Hoffman’s publicists on her behalf:

I feel this whole situation has been completely blown out of proportion. Of course I was dismayed by Roberta Silman’s review which gave away the plot of the novel, and in the heat of the moment I responded strongly and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions and that’s the name of the game in publishing. I hope my readers understand that I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and I’m truly sorry if I did.

Alice Hoffman

I’m a bit rusty on breaking down apologies, but this one is easy because it is so utterly lame. This is one of those conditional “I’m sorry if” apologies — i.e. “I have to pretend to apologize for PR reasons, but I don’t really want to.” There is no recognition or admission that she did anything wrong. An apology that starts out with the apologizer playing the victim card (“this whole situation has been completely blown of out proportion” [yeah, by you, psycho author]) is off to a bad start. Second sentence is more self-justification. Then the classic non-apology “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”

I can’t imagine who you might have offended, Ms. Hoffman. Perhaps the book reviewer you called a moron and further publicly insulted? Maybe you could apologize for that. Oh, but you “didn’t mean to hurt anyone” Well, okay then.

I haven’t read any of Hoffman’s books (and probably never will), but unfairly judging her body of work solely from her Twitter output and this apology–she’s overrated.

Market My Novel also has a nice discussion of Alice Hoffman’s Twitter rage.