WHO Is Taking WHAT Seriously?

Again and again, apologetic public statements by company spokespeople feature the phrase, “taking it seriously,” or a variant thereof. Are all these companies really taking things as seriously as they say? Or is “taking it seriously” seen as an all-purpose incantation from the PR grimoire that magically erases away wrongdoing? A sort of “disaster ketchup?” Since we always like to see the good in humanity, we’ll refrain from passing judgment, and instead offer up eight recent iterations of the phrase so you can decide for yourselves.

familytrees.jpgWHO: Lowe’s
WHAT: Calling Christmas Trees “Family Trees”
WHERE: Lowe’s Apologizes for ‘Family Trees’ in Christmas Catalog [CNSNNEWS]
THE QUOTE: “We take this situation very seriously and are redoubling our efforts to proofread those catalogs in the future.”

naturaltaragum.jpgWHO: Breyer’s
WHAT: Changing ice cream formula by adding Tara gum.
WHERE: Breyer’s Ice Cream Has Tara Gum [Consumerist]
THE QUOTE: “In response to your questions regarding the use of tara gum in its ice cream, Breyers is proud of its all-natural heritage. It’s a position we take very seriously and one we work hard to maintain…By adding a natural gum to Breyers All Natural Vanilla ice cream, we’ve helped to protect the product’s texture while staying true to our all-natural commitment.”

36hours.jpgWHO: Healthcare Distribution Management Association
WHAT: Counterfeit drugs being sold in pharmacies.
WHERE: Fake drugs show up in U.S. pharmacies [USA TODAY]
THE QUOTE: “We take it very seriously.”

cribdeath.jpgWHO: CPSC
WHAT: Cribs that kill babies.
WHERE: Baby Cribs Recalled After Three Deaths [AP]
THE QUOTE: “When we learn of a crib-related death, we take it very seriously.”


WHO: Bell Mobility
WHAT: A “Pimp” ringtone referencing “ho’s” and featuring the sound of women getting slapped.
WHERE: Bell Mobility hangs up voice of terror ringtone [National Post]
THE QUOTE: After women’s shelters complained, Bell said, “We learned from the Pimp Tones incident and Bell does take these concerns very seriously.”
BONUS: Later in the year, there were complaints about a different “Pimp Tone,” this one had a woman screaming, “Don’t touch me! Get back! No! No-o-o!” Bell said, “Obviously, the opinion of our customers and the public is very important to us and we take it very seriously.”

mooninitesattack.jpgWHO: Boston
WHAT: Hand-made LED signs featuring characters from the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” cartoon.
WHERE: Boston drops charges against Mooninite terror cell leaders [BoingBoing]
THE QUOTE: “I hope the message goes out to all guerrilla marketers who plan on doing business in Boston that we take the public safety of those who live and work here very seriously.”

manholes.jpgWHO: ConEd
WHAT: Revelation that they outsource their manhole smelting to nearly naked Indians paid dollars a day.
WHERE: New York Manhole Covers, Forged Barefoot in India [NYT]
THE QUOTE: “We were disturbed by the photos. We take worker safety very seriously.”

baggedletuce.jpgWHO: United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association
WHAT: E.coli in bagged lettuce
WHERE: Unseen danger in bagged salads [MSNBC]
Q: The Food and Drug Administration and the California authorities say that the E.coli outbreaks came from bag lettuce. You disagree?
A: Well, it’s certainly their firm belief and we take it seriously.

(Photos: sonyaseattle, DCvision2006, J. Adam Huggins. “Public Relations” image by Ben Popken)
Additional reporting by Alex Chasick and Meghann Marco.

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