Brands behaving badly

When a company has been around for a long time, it earns a certain amount of trust from its customers. With that said, goodwill can turn to bad blood in the blink of an eye when a decision is made that negatively impacts consumers.

While it’s comforting to imagine that only younger companies make mistakes, not even the likes of Apple, Samsung and Warner Bros. are impervious to making bad decisions on occasion, despite having been in business for a combined 208 years.

Apple’s recent faux pas involved a knee-jerk reaction to a racially-motivated mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, which saw the Cupertino company take down all apps featuring images of the Confederate flag from its App Store (including Gettysburg — featured in the image above).

While the gesture came from an area of sensitivity in reaction to a devastating occurrence, fuelled in part by a movement which saw several state governments and businesses remove the flag from public areas, it failed to take into account the many historical apps on the service that feature the flag for educational purposes and for the sake of accuracy.

Several developers of historical games and educational apps received messages from Apple after their apps had been removed, stating that they were taken down for displaying “the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways”.

Apple has since reversed many of the bans.

Meanwhile, Samsung recently made the ‘security motivated’ decision to disable Windows Update on its laptops, forcing its customers to use its own SW Updater tool.

A program called ‘Disable_Windowsupdate.exe’ was found by a researcher while debugging SW Updater, which, as the wording would suggest, blocks access to Windows Update within the Windows registry.

Some have suggested that the tactic was a precautionary move by Samsung to prevent Microsoft’s updates from removing its pre-installed bloatware.

While Samsung initially denied SW Updater was blocking Windows Update, stating that “it is not true that we are blocking a Windows 8.1 operating system update on our computers”, it eventually switched gears, telling Gizmodo that the company would be “issuing a patch through the Samsung Software Update notification process to revert back to the recommended automatic Windows Update settings within a few days.”

In Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s case, the bad decision was to issue PC gamers with a broken port of its biggest game of the year, Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Calling its launch on PC an absolute disaster would be an understatement, as the port suffered from crippling performance issues that saw even the beefiest PCs running the game outperformed by consoles.

The port, which was outsourced to Killer Instinct: Season 2 developer Iron Galaxy, saw Batman face his most diabolical adversaries yet – a locked-down frame rate of 30fps, stuttering, and the lack of high-performance visual effects, such as bokeh depth-of-field, ambient occlusion and transparency layers for rain and wet surfaces.

The problems with the game are so severe that Warner Bros. has indefinitely suspended sales of the title on PC until original developer Rocksteady can iron out the numerous bugs.

While these are just a few examples of how bad decisions can hurt a brand’s reputation, they show clearly that everyone is vulnerable in the age of social media and constantly updated internet news.

That means now, more than ever, companies need to think twice before giving consumers the short end of the stick.

  • the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways

    • ArcTanGentleman

      *confederate flag*
      “You lost, GET OVER IT! ‘Merica!”
      It should be limited to ‘promoting’ the confederate flag in a positive way, criticizing it should fall under the ‘right of the victors’. Without that victory, america would have been split in two. Apple’s policy is stupid. (And I will say that to their face).