Crisis Management Mistake: Pearl Izumi’s Advertising Blunder

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    Crisis Management Mistake: Pearl Izumi’s Misguided Advertising

    THINK before you communicate!

    [Editor’s note: Thank you to reader Kim May for bringing this case to our attention! If you see a topic you think would make for a good blog post, send it on over to]

    Would a picture of a dead dog with a concerned-looking man performing CPR make you want to buy a running shoe? Seems like a pretty obvious no, yet somehow Pearl Izumi execs gave the go-ahead to run an ad depicting just that in Canadian Running magazine. Have a look at this ad:

    Pearl Izumi dead dog

    Crisis Management 101 dictates that an organization, before doing any type of communication, considers how it may be received by stakeholders. It’s no secret that animal lovers can be fiercely protective, many people still carry wounds from lost pets, and animal rights groups do not hesitate to make a scene over even perceived cruelty to our furry friends, meaning this was one VERY predictable crisis.

    While publishing the initial ad was an undeniably foolish move, Pearl Izumi went all in once it recognized the need for crisis management. A sincere apology was posted to its Facebook wall, and the company shared a couple of videos from and donated a cool $10,000 to, the Humane Society.

    The steps Pearl Izumi has taken should help neutralize the reputation damage it was taking, and it’s certainly nice for the Humane Society to get a hefty donation, but it has to hurt a bit to think that, if their advertising folks had spoken with their PR people about potential downsides, the situation could have been avoided altogether.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]