Crock-Pot Crisis – Responding to Fiction


Like most of America, I fell in love with the Pearson clan in the pilot episode of This Is Us. For a season and a half now, the show has made me laugh, brought me to tears, and inspired me. I’ve also waited for a season and a half to learn more about how the father, Jack, will meet his demise. My wait was over with the January 23 episode –a faulty Crock-Pot catches fire and presumably burns the house down.

Before this episode, I loved my Crock-Pot, but I didn’t leave it on when not at home. A trained fire-fighting friend has reminded me of the product’s safety record many times, but I still wasn’t ready to plug it in and then leave. And after seeing the fateful episode of This Is Us, I finally had the proof I needed to justify my cautious behavior.

And I wasn’t alone. Countless fans took to social media, not only to share their sadness over learning details about Jack’s demise, but decrying the Crock-Pot brand. Fans declared they were tossing their Crock Pots into the trash and others announced they were removing the appliance from their wedding registries.

Crock-Pot didn’t sit around and wait for their reputation and sales to nosedive. They jumped into action.

  • Crock-Pot released a statement that is relatable, factual and reassuring. It identifies with fans while reminding them that the show is indeed fiction. The brand has “never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode.” This was comforting news to me. It goes into detail about product testing and design, which makes the type of event depicted in the show “nearly impossible.” The technical details are informative and easy to understand.
  • Crock-Pot published a compassionate Facebook post; they didn’t want fans to “further add to this tragedy by throwing your Crock-Pot Slow Cooker away.” They encouraged fans to honor Jack’s legacy by enjoying a Crock-Pot recipe with family and friends, one of his favorite things to do. And as an added touch, they included a photo of a Steelers-branded appliance with a bowl of chili – a tribute fans of the show will appreciate.
  • Crock-Pot launched a Twitter account, hoping to reassure fans about product safety. @CrockPotCares has been busy ever since, responding to fans directly to express their sadness over the show’s events, and inviting those with questions to contact them directly.

By focusing on empathy and understanding, and tapping into their social media savvy to reach fans where they were already having conversations, Crock-Pot used this situation to build brand affinity and increase brand loyalty. A statement, or social media post, that didn’t strike the right tone could have easily come across as condescending or dismissive. But because of their careful crafting, this slow cooking This is Us fan will be using her Crock-Pot for the big game, just as Jack would have wanted. And I’ll even leave it on while out of the house in the future.