Crisis Management – Update – The Long Road to Recovery


What does it take for a brand to recover from a crisis? We looked back at three brands that we covered in May’s “When bad things happen to good brands” and used E-Score Brand to check on the recovery, or lack thereof, of United Airlines, SeaWorld, and Chipotle. We discovered that all three are struggling to fight their way back into the good graces of consumers.

One lesson is that once a crisis hits, brands will be increasingly susceptible to PR missteps as the public and media are more attuned to problems suffered by the brand. This can delay a recovery of public trust, and force a brand to be hyper-vigilant in its operations.

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United Airlines: Still Suffering

Nearly six months after the passenger removal incident that led United on a PR scramble, the brand still seems to be suffering, according to our data.


  • United’s Appeal has not changed much, with 17% Appeal in May compared to 19% now. However, Dislike remains much higher than average at 42%. Although up from United’s May Dislike score of 55%, it is still more than double the industry average of 21%.
  • United still has some work to do attracting new customers, as 19% of non-users say they Will Never Consider the airline as opposed to 10% pre-crisis.
  • In the short term, the crisis did not seem to affect United much financially, as they released positive second quarter results in July. Since that time, however, United’s stock price has declined by 23%, compared to only 7% for the industry average.

SeaWorld: Scores Down Again

Our last evaluation of SeaWorld showed that the brand’s image was improving and had a chance to recover from the backlash of Blackfish. Most recently though, some additional bad news events have caused consumer appeal to drop yet again.


  • Bad press continues to plague the brand as two more whales died in captivity over the summer, and protests at several parks made the news including one led by actor James Cromwell.
  • Dislike scores for the brand have risen from 22% to 26% since May, while Appeal and Would Recommend scores have dropped by 7% and 9% respectively.
  • Overall, SeaWorld’s recovery seems to have stalled as the brand’s E-Scores have dropped to where they were in the depths of the crisis.
  • One bright spot: SeaWorld is still considered Family Friendly by 50% of consumers, similar to pre-crisis levels.

Chipotle: Slow Recovery

Chipotle just cannot seem to catch a break when it comes to crisis. The E. coli outbreak in 2016 hit the brand hard, and crisis continues to harm their image.


  • Two recent incidents, a rodent sighting in a Dallas store and a norovirus outbreak from a sick employee in Virginia, only slowed the brand’s efforts toward recovery. While these incidents may happen occasionally in the fast-food industry, the association with Chipotle created extra attention.
  • Chipotle’s E-Scores have risen since we checked in with them in May, but are still nowhere near their pre-crisis levels. Since our last look, Chipotle’s Appeal has risen (31% to 36%) while Dislike has dropped from 39% to 34%.
  • However, when compared to pre-crisis, Appeal is down by 7% and Brand Loyalty by 11%, while Dislike is up 15% (19% vs 34%).


E-Score can help your brand monitor consumer sentiments and track the various stages along the road to recovery. We will continue to monitor these brands as well as others like Samsung and Volkswagen that have seemingly made better recoveries. And as new crises pop up (e.g., Equifax and the other credit bureaus, American Red Cross), E-Score Brand will provide critical insights on those too. With thousands of brands in our database and constant updates, E-Score Brand keeps track of all the brands you care about.


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United_Update.png SeaWorld Update.png Chipotle Update.png

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