HBO Runs out of ‘Luck’
Last week, HBO came under heavy criticism by animal activist groups after three horses were euthanized during production of the drama Luck. The criticism lead to Luck being cancelled almost 24 hours after the third horse was put down. While this situation raises questions about the use of animals for entertainment’s sake, it also presents an example of how organizations like HBO can handle a PR crisis — diffusing the situation before it snowballs into a larger issue.
Let’s face it — there’s always a chance of backlash from animal activists groups when producing a show that involves animals. Groups like PETA are influential and their claims can rarely be ignored as they fight for the rights of animals across situations and industries. In this case, HBO read the writing on the wall. It realized that the show could potentially lose more horses during production, leading to louder and louder opposition by these groups. Cutting their losses now avoids potentially larger problems – and headaches – later.
In this instance, HBO did what was necessary – and right. They avoided a reputation-damaging situation, while managing to keep their brand reputation at the highest level possible. While your company may not face this exact same situation, here are a few questions to consider when facing a crisis:
Can we permanently correct the situation in a timely manner? If not, what can we tell the press we are doing to rectify the circumstances?
When (not if) we come under criticism from the public and press, how do we measure the severity (and possible outcomes) from their claims?
What is more important to our brand? Short-term revenue loss or long-term brand reputation?
Always have a plan in place…And, in crisis communications, always expect the unexpected.