BREAKDOWN: The anatomy of the PX Mart boss’s apology

By Christine Chou and Alan Fong, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — What a week for PR blunders. In the footsteps of Pepsi and United Airlines, one Taiwan company wandered into its own PR nightmare this week. Supermarket chain PX Mart’s CEO Hsu Chung-jen (徐重仁) is being raked over the coals for “insensitive” comments made Tuesday. Successful PR campaigns, especially as social media campaign targeting younger customers, have helped shape PX Mart into one of the most recognizable brands in the country. But Hsu’s remarks — that young people are spending too much money and should instead try to be more frugal, like the young people of his time — triggered enormous online outrage, with some netizens going so far as to call for a boycott. A day later, Hsu posted an apology on the company’s Facebook page and it quickly went viral. The China Post will show you what was said in one of the most discussed articles of the day — plus what was said between the lines.

昨日收到一位年輕同仁向我諫言:「總裁,您失言了」 “A young coworker advised me yesterday, ‘Chief, you made an improper remark.’” CP: The mention of the young coworker was a stroke of genius. It gives the online outrage a face — a brave young employee dressing down the CEO — while providing Hsu with a reason to change his mind within a short time without looking passive or insincere. He was taking the advice of an employee and not forced to apologize by the public backlash.

回想我當時發言,確實是出於對自己孩子說話的心情:其中夾雜著疼惜、擔憂,想求好,卻又太過心切。 而那些話語也的確是從我那個世代的立場出發,有失周全。 “I looked back to what I had said, and my statements indeed had been made as if I were speaking to my children: It came from a mix of protective love, concern and high expectations, but I was too anxious to get results. Those remarks were indeed made from the perspective of my generation. They weren’t carefully considered enough.” CP: Notice how more words are spent explicating his own turmoil and the good intentions he had when making the comment than on what he thinks is wrong about the comment. This might come out too unapologetic for some.