Introduction

In December 2017, an international retailer issued the following apology on Twitter:

“We now know we were wrong to do this – we’re truly sorry and we won’t ever do it again. Thanks for telling us what you really think and we apologise if we have let you down on this one.”

Devoid of context, it’s easy to speculate on what the misdemeanour was and which business was shamed. We’ve seen some genuinely weighty scandals in recent years – from phone-hacking to horse meat to all manner of corporate malfeasance on pay, tax and boardroom representation. In the case of the mea culpa above, the brand in question is Paperchase, and they were apologising for running a promotion with the Daily Mail.

We live in interesting times. The UK is in its last few months as an EU member, while the country's future relationship with the continent and rest of the world is being negotiated. At the same time, the wider world lurches towards greater fragmentation as competing trade blocs vie for supremacy. The midterm elections in the US might precipitate impeachment of the president while other votes in other countries see populists gain seats and power. Meanwhile, a former UK Prime Minister warns that the world is ‘sleepwalking’ into the next financial crisis.1