NEW YORK: It was once the case that a one-off print ad was all that was required for brands needing to apologise for corporate failings, but they now have to do so across multiple channels in the digital age – and it is proving to be expensive.

In its examination of the changing nature of corporate apology ads, the Wall Street Journal focused on three scandal-hit and prominent brands which have been compelled to spend millions of dollars to try to shore up their reputations.

Facebook, hit by the Cambridge Analytica revelations about the alleged misuse of users’ personal data, on top of ongoing scrutiny about fake news and Russian influence in elections, has been running its biggest ever ad campaign.

Called “Here Together” and launched on April 25th, the PR offensive promises consumers that the company will fix its assorted problems and it has been running across TV, billboards, cinema and print, as well as social media. It also aired during the NBA playoffs.

According to figures given to the Journal by measurement firm iSpot, the campaign has cost Facebook almost $30m in little more than the month to May 29th.

“We live in an age of rage, and companies are now compelled to engage and apologise,” said Harlan Loeb, global chair of crisis management at Edelman.

“The cost of a crisis campaign can now be up to 20 times what it was in 2000,” he added.

But Facebook is not alone in its need to issue a very public mea culpa. Ride-hailing firm Uber and Wells Fargo, the financial institution, have found themselves in hot water in recent years and they too have had to spend large sums on winning back the trust of consumers.

According to the iSpot estimates, Wells Fargo’s “Earn Back Your Trust” campaign, which had its TV debut on May 5th, has already cost it $21.5m.

The bank, which got caught up in a controversy about staff opening accounts without the knowledge of customers, is also reported to be using online polls and focus groups to test how much advertising is required.

And Uber, which has been subject to a myriad of well-publicised controversies, is having to finance a campaign that promises it is moving in a “new direction”. This, says iSpot, has cost almost $10m since its launch just two weeks ago.

Sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff