This is Us…Overreacting.

**Contains This Is Us Spoilers
The year is 2018 – a year of advancements in space exploration, peaceful protests across the country, unrest and uncertainty in our nation’s capital, and most importantly…. the year we find out exactly how Jack Pearson dies. Let me back up – if you don’t know who Jack Pearson is, he is the stone cold fox, mustachioed, father figure on the hit NBC show called This is Us. Let me back up even further – if you don’t watch This is Us, you need to reevaluate how you are spending your time.
For the last two seasons of This is Us, NBC has been toying with our emotions ever since it was revealed that the hot dad, Jack, is no longer living. But how? When? Was he alone or scared? To whom at NBC should I mail my strongly worded letter protesting this tragedy? Miguel is married to Rebecca now? I need answers and I need them now.
For a few episodes now, fans have known the devastating fact that Jack likely perished in a fire. Brutal, right? Well, last week’s episode, during which I cried a minimum of three times, revealed exactly WHAT caused the fire. No, he didn’t accidentally light a fire when he was drunk, it wasn’t the classic “oops, the wife left the stove on,” or someone tipping over a candle, it was… A DAMN SLOW COOKER. Instant Pots hadn’t yet burst into the market in the 1990’s, so people were still slumming it with a regular old run-of-the-mill slow cooker. And apparently – they will kill you. To clarify – an old slow cooker with faulty wiring that is left sitting atop an old red rag – will kill you.
After the episode aired, and showed the intense one-minute preview clip for the next episode with the house engulfed in flames, people were up in arms and tossing out their Crock-Pots. Why Crock-Pots? Because Crock-Pot is the most famous brand of slow cooker, and practically synonymous with, if not more well known, than the term “slow cooker.” Crock-Pot, the once innocent kitchen appliance that took your beef stew game to the next level, was now the defendant in the trial of Jack Pearson’s murder, and the verdict is in: Crock-Pots are done.
To clarify, the killer slow cooker that was featured in the episode didn’t even have a visible brand listed on it, but the general public turned to the slow cooker behemoth, Crock-Pot, for answers on what in the hell just happened. Being the number one brand of slow cooker, something they had worked for since the 1970’s, was their downfall.
This debacle, which blew up on the internet rather quickly, got so big that Crock-Pot had to create their first-ever Twitter account to address the heart-wrenching episode and calm fan’s nerves. Now, most of the mentions online were done in a joking fashion or made into funny memes, but this situation is a good example of how quickly a consumer base can turn on a brand or blame a brand for something they weren’t directly involved with.
If this was a neighbor that you knew who perished in a Crock-Pot fire, then yes, tossing out your Crock-Pot may be a justifiable reaction, but this was a TV show. As much as I think that Jack Pearson and the rest of the Pearson clan are real people, and as much as I want to be the fourth sibling and pretend that we would call ourselves “Big Four,” or how I wish I could actually tune into the show The Manny, the show This is Us, sadly, is not real.
Although this was not a real-life tragedy, marketers now need to be prepared to have their consumer base flip on them in an instant. Companies need to be prepared for a complete and total meltdown, no matter how ridiculous the thing is that started it (Point-in-case – enough grown adults eating Tide Pods that the brand had to actually pay for an anti “Tide Pod Challenge” advertisement with Rob Gronkowski – likely not cheap.)
At what point in situations like this do companies need to step in and publically address the matter? When is it just a quick internet fad or when is it an actual problem? If Crock-Pot was connected with a real-life string of hot dad deaths, then the brand may have actually been in hot water, but luckily this issue seemed to be tongue-in-cheek and something people are already moving on from – that is, until the next episode airs after the Super Bowl. This has actually been an opportunity for the brand to interact with a younger audience online, which was not something they were doing prior to this show airing. Silver lining!
While short-lived consumer overreactions, much like this one, are not always cause for alarm, they should remind companies to stay on their toes and be prepared. Brands need to have protocols in place for situations that are a true problem (e.g. Tylenol being poisoned in 1982, tainted dog food killing off man’s best friend, faulty car parts causing serious harm, etc.) Companies need to know that they have the right people on their team who can accurately, and calmly, respond to mass criticism.
Long story short, in a fast-moving world with new TV shows every week, viral videos, and internet fads, and a world where one day you can be in, and the next you are out, brands need to be sure they have the correct resources in place to make sure their reputation and success doesn’t go up in flames… (see what I did there?). Something tells me the PR folks over at Crock-Pot did not wake up last Tuesday knowing their brand was going to be nationally trending on Twitter starting exactly at 9:55 pm ET. But, every day brings something new, and it’s important for companies to be prepared and ready for whatever this weird world throws at them.
PSA – the next episode of This is Us is NOT on Tuesday, January 30. It will air after the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 4. Set your DVRs accordingly, folks.
RIP Jack Pearson.

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