Radisson takes an “adversity branding” platform. And it works.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Radisson Hotels invested in a half page ad in the Marketplace section.  It wasn’t an ad with a juicy third-night-free offer, or even touting the allures of any of its zillion locations.  No pretty pictures.  No direct response call to action.

It was an open letter.  To be more specific, an open apology letter to any guests that stayed at any North American Radisson between November 2008 and May 2009.  Turns out they were hacked, and they come clean in this letter.

But this is more than a simple mea culpa.  And way more than an apology.  This is a strategic positioning initiative that tackles an ugly problem head-on and engages the audience in the healing process.  In the letter, they provide a direct link on their website for more information and how to receive free credit monitoring for one year.  (You’re eligible only if Radisson can confirm that you stayed at one of the hotels during the stipulated period.)

Despite the gaffe, Radisson comes off looking pretty good here, and very responsible.  The average consumer will be miffed at first, but then heartened by the multiple steps the company is taking to a.) make it up to their customers and b.) shore up their security initiatives by working with law enforcement and credit card companies.  It also provides some insight to the operational values at the corporation.

Bur more importantly, I think this leaves the consumer more confident in the brand – and interestingly, more bonded.  The fact that Radisson shares this “we’ve been compromised, too” idea with the consumer helps to unite the brand with its audience on an unlikely, but effective, triangulation point.

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