I don't want this to be all about Tom Cruise because, dear Lord, who among us can take more of that? But when Ernie Schenck discusses Cruise as a brand, he asks, "What if Cruise actually is in love with Holmes?"
To which I must answer, "Does it matter?"
Did it matter that Wendy's wasn't responsible for a severed finger in their chili? Apparently not; business suffered anyway. Does is matter that shark attacks are statistically rare? No, because the prevailing view in our world is that sharks are everywhere. Everywhere!
It's tricky when the facts are on your side but the public isn't. Seth Godin says "changing a worldview requires you to get your prospects to admit that they were wrong. This is awfully hard to do....tapping into a worldview almost always requires more than a new title or a new wrapper or a new ad. I think it requires rethinking the product itself." Is this possible for odd humans and large restaurant franchises? For Cruise, whose brand is surely damaged within his own industry, that might mean fewer talk show appearances, more roles in indie films and most important a moratorium on public displays of Katie. All of a sudden, he could be an artist instead of a freakshow.
Wendy's took what seemed like the right steps to recovery -- intense investigation, public disclosure even free Frostys -- but these rational measures failed to address the emotional "ick" factor. A better idea would have been not to serve chili for a while. Off the menu and out of people's minds. At least until the weather turns cold and everyone remembers they like it.
Sometimes you just need to remove the very thing that's the problem. Even if there is, in fact, no problem. Because honesty doesn't always equal sincerity and the facts don't always matter.