How to rebuild a brand after a crisis successfully, demonstrated Dr. Rob Britton, who was appointed Managing Director of Advertising at American Airlines three weeks after the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. At his WHU Inside Business talk "(Crisis Management)² - Marketing Communication at American Airlines after the 9/11 Attacks" at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management on Friday, February 8, he reported on his experiences in crisis management.
"You and I know strategies like the marketing mix, but at the time there was no blueprint to respond to this enormous national trauma. We had to rebuild confidence in our employees and customers and stimulate travel and business revenue," Rob Britton addresses the excited students. Britton speaks in "we-form" when he justifies American Airlines' decisions. He still feels a part of and connected to the company. Why American Airlines has overcome this crisis is because there have been people who have set an example through their moral actions: "The best best practice is having a moral compass," says Rob Britton.
Immediately after the terrorist attack, American Airlines published letters of condolence addressed to the relatives of the victims and to the nation. With an extensive market analysis, the former advertising director succeeded in introducing advertising campaigns for the airline to remind people of the positive associations of flying, namely to enable family and friends to get together and meet again. It is essential to be as visible, transparent and accessible as possible, both internally for employees, and externally for the public, customers and other stakeholders. According to Britton, compassion and honesty are fundamental qualities that a leader needs in such crises.
Following his lecture, Dr. Rob Britton answered the critical questions of the students, who were able to exchange ideas with the expert at the wine tasting organized by the student club In Vino Veritas - WHU Vallendar.