The slow cooker brand soothed burned viewers so well that sales spiked. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry that your Crock-Pot will kill you.
“This Is Us” fans aren’t fretting about their slow-cookers killing them anymore — thanks to some brilliant marketing on Crock-Pot’s part, and some serious backpedalling by NBC.
But that wasn’t the case immediately after the heart-wrenching Jan. 23 episode, which implied that the familiar kitchen appliance killed off beloved father of triplets Jack (played by Milo Ventimiglia) by sparking a fire that engulfed the entire house. Devastated viewers initially reacted on social media by threatening to toss their own Crock-Pots.
— Chelsea Stevens (@ChelseaMS731) January 24, 2018
What I learned from tonight’s episode of @ThisIsUsNBC — it’s probably time for me to ditch this 50-year-old #crockpot handed down from my parents. #ThisIsUs @ThisIsUsWriters 😭 pic.twitter.com/0U3POfi0GP
— Jenny Price Smith (@madisonjps) January 24, 2018
— Lets Go Rutgers (@LetsGoRU) January 24, 2018
Yet a month later, Ad Age reports that Crock-Pot sales actually increased $300,892. So how did Crock-Pot put out this PR fire?
The slow cooker’s communications team at Edelman first considered suing “This Is Us” network NBC, its global chair of the brand practice Mark Renshaw revealed at the Ad Age Survival Summit. But then they opted to get more creative about changing the conversation, instead.
They opened a Twitter account after the episode aired (@crockpotcares) that responded to many viewers’ tweets, and published a lengthy Facebook post to try and reassure customers that its signature appliance isn’t going to roast them in their sleep.
We didn't see that one coming either. 💔 We know there’s some concern, but we want to assure you we rigorously test our products for safety. DM us with any questions, and we’d be happy to tell you more about our safety standards.
— The Crock-Pot® Brand (@CrockPotCares) January 24, 2018
“America’s favorite dad and husband deserved a better exit and Crock-Pot shares in your devastation,” read the Facebook post. “Don’t further add to this tragedy by throwing your Crock-Pot Slow Cooker away. It’s hard to pass something down from generation to generation if you throw it away (grandma won’t be too happy). Spending time with his family while enjoying comfort food from his Crock-Pot was one of his favorite things to do. Let’s all do our part and honor his legacy in the kitchen with Crock-Pot.”
They also rolled out a “very special message” apology ad during the Super Bowl that showed Ventimiglia dishing himself a bowl of chili from a Crock-Pot with the hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent popping up on the screen.
“In 2018, gathering with friends and family is not as easy as what it used to be. The country is divided, and sometimes that can make it tough to find common ground,” he said in the spot. “This year, I think we should all take a deep breath, find the ability to forgive and remind ourselves [that] there is no difference so great that we can’t overcome it.”
And Etsy artists even began making heat-proof decals to stock on your Crock-Pot that say things like, “Don’t forget to unplug me … Love, Jack” and “I forgive you … Love, Jack.”
“Sales actually rebounded. Not only did we restore the brand and restore the reputation and trust, but we got, actually, a sales lift out of it,” Renshaw said at the Ad Age summit.
A Crock-Pot spokesperson also told Moneyish in a statement that, “It is important that our consumers understand and have confidence that all Crock-Pot slow cookers exceed all internal testing protocols and all applicable industry safety standards and regulations as verified by independent third-party testing labs. For nearly 50 years, with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode. In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.”
For those still skeptical about the safety of their slow cooker, Crock-Pot’s safety features include:
- It is low current and low wattage (typically no more than 200 or 300 watts) and designed to cook foods over a longer period of time at low temperatures.
- The switches are connected to only one side of the power line voltage, so there is never a high voltage applied directly across its switches.
- The switches are subjected to additional internal testing, which includes a Rotary Knob Endurance test, Rotary Knob Force Test and Flame Burning Test.
- The switches are also constructed of self-extinguishing, flame resistant material.
And play it safe by using the Crock-Pot responsibly, per its user manual. Only fill it between one-half and three-quarters full, and keep the Crock-Pot on a hard, flat surface with the power cord away from the edges of the surface area. And obviously don’t use any slow cooker with a frayed or damaged cord, and don’t immerse the cord, plug or cooker itself in water.
And if you’re using another brand of slow cooker, be sure to refer to its designated user safety manual.
FDNY spokesperson Jim Long told Moneyish that while he didn’t think there were “too many” slow cooker fire incidents in their records – compared to space heaters, which are often left on too long and placed too close to flammable items like blankets – cooking is still the leading cause of house fires and fire injuries, so you should proceed with caution. Keep the area around the slow cooker clear of combustible items like towels, papers or pot holders, and get any frayed cords or faulty switches professionally repaired – don’t just slap electrical tape on them and call it a day. The FDNY also shared some basic kitchen safety tips and electrical appliance safety tips for your home.
And don’t leave it alone. “I know it goes against what the slow cooker is supposed to be about, which is being able to turn it on to cook for 10 or 12 hours on its own,” Long added. “But our approach to fire safety is prevention, so if you’re not around, and you don’t have eyes on it, then you can’t prevent it.”
This story was originally published on Jan. 25, 2018, and has been updated.
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