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  • Writer's pictureCrisis Shield

Crisis Case Study (continued...): Optus fights back in bold response

By Georgia Comensoli and James Fitzpatrick

Crisis Shield Optus Case Study

Did Optus read Crisis Shield’s latest case study on their coverage? Because we've been impressed by their response.

Optus had exclusive rights to this year's Soccer World Cup, sharing only select games with almost 30-year world cup broadcaster, SBS.

As previously reported, their coverage hit many road bumps in sensational fashion. Optus came under intense scrutiny from consumers, infuriated by sub-par coverage and ever consistent screen of death: “Playback error”.

How did they respond?

Optus gave themselves a time frame of 24 hours to resolve the issue. If they couldn’t fix their technical difficulties then it was time to pass over the rights back to the original broadcasters, SBS.

They weren’t able to fix it in time… and sticking to their word, they handed over the coverage to SBS.

CEO Allen Lew publicly apologised to Australian Soccer fans. He added that Optus had taken a huge gamble taking on the streaming rights.

Lew detailed how they will learn from this experience and grow as a company.

“All of us at Optus will use what we have learned from this experienced to place ourselves ahead in the delivery of content to customers…” -Allan Lew talking to the AAP.

For those who forked out $15 to view the matches, the service provider announced all would be refunded.

Using social media and press conferences Lew was able to keep communication clear and honest throughout the debacle, leaving little for scrutiny.

The Optus (frozen) image

There's no doubt Optus' reputation took a hit. The voices were loud, furious, and many when paying customers couldn't watch the game they love.

Negative hashtags and memes besmirching Optus were aplenty.

But credit where credit's due; once they were able confirm the source of the error, they copped it on the chin, taking full responsibility, apologising and finding an interim solution for people who wanted to watch the game (despite that solution coming at significant loss to Optus).

Their CEO fronted the media, was open to interviews, and engaged key stakeholders (even the PM who later relayed his message).

Because of this bold response, we think Optus will have minimised the damage to their reputation going forward.

They may be the bud of some on-going jokes but as we near the business end of the World Cup, the conversation looks to have already moved on. For example, a Twitter search on one of the incident's primary trending Hashtags '#FLOPtus' reveals minimal and decreasing use since 21 June.

It seems this incident isn't going to deter the company in their expansion either. When asked by the AAP whether this experience would stop him from bidding for other sport broadcasting rights, CEO Allen Lew responded “Definitely not”.

Whether this incident hampers the company's long term endeavours remains to be seen but we think that, despite some initial failings, their crisis response will have minimised the long-term damage to their brand.

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