Sorry for our World Cup balls up, says Optus in newspaper ads

A fortnight after its World Cup streaming disaster began, Optus has published full-page apologies to the public.

The ads appear in today’s newspapers, with an open letter attributed to Optus CEO Allen Lew in The Australian Financial Review and The Australia.  A simpler version has been produced for News Corp’s tabloid readers.

The upmarket version of the ad, signed by Lew, says:

Dear Australia,

I’d like to apologise personally, and on behalf of Optus, to you all.

Like you, we are football lovers. Our broadcast of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was to be one of our proudest moments. Unfortunately, we let you down.

Watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup on us.

We can’t undo what happened, but we can try to make amends. So in the spirit of the beautiful game, we are:
° Offering access to Optus Sport for free until 31 August 2018 for all Australians.
° Sharing the broadcast rights to all remaining matches with SBS.

Now you can all watch the world game in the way that works best for you. It’s the least we can do for the unnecessary disruption and disappointment.

Making things better.

We’re not perfect, but we are big enough to own up to our mistakes. We’ve addressed the problems, and our 2018 FIFA World Cup
delivery is now back on track.

Our customers always come first, and we will continue to do all we can to regain your trust and loyalty

Yours sincerely,
Allen Lew

Meanwhile, the tabloid version of the ad acknowledged that the problems – which saw many subscribers unable to watch the first games of the tournament – were a “monumental stuff up”.

It said:

Balls up.


Qué desastre.

However you say it, we did it. And we’re sorry.

We’re not going to pretend our delivery of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was anything but a monumental stuff up. We are going to make things better though.

We’ll be sharing our broadcast rights to all remaining games with SBS, plus giving access to Optus Sport for free until 31 August to all Australians.

Our delivery of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is now back on track, so put us to the test.

And we’ll stay busy making sure this never happens again.

Optus had originally done a deal with SBS which saw the public broadcaster air some first round games, while most would have been exclusive to the telco.

But after technical problems led to a political and public relations disaster, Optus gradually handed back the rights to SBS, first of all to the first few nights, then the rest of the first round. Yesterday, Optus said it was giving the rights for the rest of the tournament to SBS too.

Mumbrella understands that although the telco was confident its issues had been fixed, it decided that the news value of even a relatively small number of people complaining on social media of having problems risked triggering another round of negative coverage.

The tabloid ad:

The Oz and AFR ad:

The “balls-up” ad bears strategic similarities to KFC’s much-celebrated handling of its embarrassing problems in the UK earlier this year when delivery problems led to stores running out of chicken. It published an apology ad featuring the word “FCK”.

KFC apologised for FCK-ing it up


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