The worst apologies on the internet

One great thing about the internet is that it allows companies and media figures to talk to the public directly, instead of just chiseling announcements onto obelisks, or whatever people did in the 1970s. As a result, prominent personalities caught in a simple misunderstanding can clear the issue up with a rapid apology. And prominent personalities who are genuinely awful can confirm that, by issuing a terrible apology that immediately backfires. The system works for everyone!

Samsung's Tim Baxter

By now, you've probably heard about Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones catching fire or even exploding. The company issued a recall in September, promising to replace the faulty phones. Samsung Electronics America CEO Tim Baxter also released an apology video. Baxter didn't acknowledge that the phone was causing fires, instead referring awkwardly to "battery cell defects" that "did not meet the standard of excellence you expect." However, he did promise that "the Note7 with the new battery is safe. The battery cell issue is resolved."

Unfortunately, the battery cell issue was not resolved, and replacement Galaxy Note 7s continued to fall short of the "no explosions" standard of excellence. To make matters worse, the company then dragged its feet over issuing another warning and recall, even though it knew that at least one user had been hospitalized from smoke inhalation after his phone caught fire. The company eventually had to launch another full recall, and soon discontinued the Note 7 entirely. All of which makes Baxter's apology video look pretty awkward in retrospect.

Trevor "TmarTn" Martin

YouTuber Trevor "TmarTn" Martin recently delivered a public relations masterclass, after it was revealed that he secretly part-owned the CSGO Lotto gambling website that he had been heavily promoting. An apology video was obviously in order, which Martin delivered from his massive house with an expensive truck positioned in the background. After all, when you stand accused of financial impropriety, it's important to emphasize that you've been making a ton of money.

In the video, Martin insisted that his ownership of CSGO Lotto wasn't a secret, which is true in the sense that his viewers could have tracked down the incorporation records. They certainly wouldn't have guessed from his videos, which said things like "We found this new site called CSGO Lotto, I'll link it down in the description if you guys want to check it out … I ended up following them on Twitter and they hit me up and they're talking to me about potentially doing like a skin sponsorship." That's like casually going on about this cool lady you ran into at the mall, and it turned out she was your mom.

Martin later told YouTuber Scarce that he didn't own the company when he made that video, which is odd, since records show he was the one who incorporated it in the first place. Sensibly, he's currently refusing to make any further statements pending the result of a lawsuit against him. The CSGO Lotto website is currently offline.

Minami Minegishi

Japanese idol bands provide a fascinating glimpse into a dystopian alternate universe where Simon Cowell won the Second World War. Take AKB48, a band of over 100 underpaid teenage girls who dance around in lingerie singing songs like "My School Uniform Is Getting In The Way." (Sample lyrics: "Toss aside my uniform / I want to play more naughtily / I'll do whatever you make me do / I want to know the fun of an adult.") The group boasts a 95 percent male fanbase, and a Guinness world record for appearing in 90 separate ads in one day.

Members of AKB48 have been filmed training until they vomit, and are strictly forbidden from dating, since that would ruin the fantasy for their male fans. As a result, it was considered a scandal when a Japanese tabloid filmed 20-year-old AKB48 member Minami Minegishi leaving her boyfriend's house one morning. As a result, Minegishi was demoted to a lower rank in the group, had her shaved head, and posted a tearful, genuinely horrifying apology video. She remains a member of the group, which lost no popularity over the incident.

Todd Akin

Congressman Todd Akin became infamous for derailing his own senate campaign with a disastrous TV interview in which he suggested that few rape victims could become pregnant, since "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." This sparked widespread outrage for being medically inaccurate, suggesting that some types of rape are less than legitimate, hinting that victims who did become pregnant were lying about being raped, and at least 19 other unfortunate implications.

To try to stem the tide, Akin released a video titled "Forgiveness" in which he managed to suggest that people were angry he had "used the wrong words in the wrong way," as opposed to taking issue with the overall meaning of his statement. He also noted that he had two daughters, which is nice, but not at all relevant. After losing the race, Akin went on to retract his apology, insisting that he was correct that women couldn't become pregnant while stressed, since he had seen loads of evidence to that effect on Google. We're assuming exactly 0% of the sites he Googled would be an acceptable source in any term paper, ever.

Domino's President Patrick Doyle

The internet has been a blessing and a curse for the fast food industry. On one hand, people buy more food when they order online, instead of through some judgmental employee. On the other hand, sometimes CEOs find themselves staring down a camera saying things like "we thank the online community for alerting us" and "the team members have been dismissed and there is a felony warrant out for their arrest."

That's exactly what happened after a YouTube video emerged showing two Domino's Pizza employees putting cheese in their nose and spraying snot onto a sandwich. In the ensuing uproar, Domino's president Patrick Doyle felt compelled to post a video of his own. Mustering all the wounded dignity of a multimillionaire apologizing for an idiot farting on pepperoni, Doyle begged concerned customers not to judge a huge franchise by the actions of two employees. He also announced that the the store had been "shut down and sanitized from top to bottom," presumably by men in hazmat suits wielding flamethrowers.

Lululemon's Chip Wilson

Back in 2013, fitness apparel company Lululemon was facing a fairly mild scandal. A new line of yoga pants were too thin, making them basically transparent when stretched. All the company had to do was issue a product recall, resist any "hot yoga" puns, and apologize to customers. Unfortunately, founder Chip Wilson proved completely incapable of admitting fault. Instead, he insisted that the pants were fine and that "some women's bodies just don't actually work for it."

After "you're too fat for our pants" turned out not to be a winning strategy, Wilson tried again, posting an apology video to YouTube. He still couldn't bring himself to acknowledge that customers had valid complaints, instead addressing only the employees who were inconvenienced by the uproar. Even then, he couldn't muster the words "I'm sorry," instead opting for "I'm sad. I'm really sad. I'm sad for the repercussions of my actions," which is basically a tidier version of "I'm sad people are angry with me for some reason." Still, what else can you expect from a guy who has defended child labor, refused to make plus-sized clothes because the extra material cost too much, and named his company entirely because he thought it would be funny to hear Japanese people pronounce it?

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

In 2015, Johnny Depp and his then-wife, Amber Heard, took a trip to Australia and brought their terriers with them. Unfortunately for the couple, Australian immigration officials apparently follow the Facebook page of the Gold Coast dog groomer hired to give the terriers a quick trim. Within hours, Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce was on TV ordering the terrier-ists to "bugger off" and leave the country within 50 hours, or face the consequences.

Why, and what consequences? Well, Depp and Heard were accused of violating the country's strict biosecurity laws, statutes that will happily allow thousands of species that can slowly poison you to death, but not cuddly old Fido. As for consequences: they would straight-up execute the poochies. Since neither of the two wanted that, they entered into a plea bargain that would spare the dogs, but utterly humiliate the humans by making them film a public apology.

Speaking in tones usually reserved for announcing that the kidnapper has taken another toe, Depp and Heard praise Australia as "a wonderful island with a treasure trove of unique plants, animals, and people … both warm and direct. When you disrespect Australian law, they will tell you firmly." Depp also warns viewers to "declare everything when you enter Australia," which is the one part of the video his thousand-yard-stare actually works quite well for.

The Fine Bros

The Fine Brothers made their name on YouTube, where their ubiquitous reaction videos ("Elders react to Die Antwoord," "YouTubers react to viral videos," "Kids react to Osama bin Laden's death") have racked up billions of views. But the brothers weren't prepared for the reaction when they tried to trademark the word "react." This would have given them some rights over the entire reaction video format (and, presumably, when anybody reacted to anything, anywhere), which the brothers intended to license in return for a cut of the profits.

Unsurprisingly, this caused an uproar, with many other YouTubers arguing that the brothers didn't invent the format, and that the trademark would allow them to take down other reaction-style videos. Many were particularly concerned that the Fine Bros had apparently taken down channels like "British Kids React," and had tweeted angrily about an Ellen DeGeneres sketch that wasn't even particularly similar to their videos. Others pointed out that the Fine Bros had made their name via reactions to other people's content, so it was pretty rich for them to suddenly get all high-and-mighty about trademark infringement.

In an attempt to stem the tide of criticism, the brothers posted a video apologizing "for confusing people" and insisting that their "React World" concept was intended to help creators. They struggled to explain how that was the case, comparing the concept to buying a Burger King franchise, and suggesting that people simply watch their videos to understand what they were trying to trademark. Unfortunately, "we're sorry you didn't understand what we meant" very rarely works as an apology, and the controversy continued unabated until the brothers announced that they would cancel React World altogether.

Paula Deen

In 2013, celebrity chef Paula Deen became the center of a hurricane of controversy after an employee sued her for racial discrimination, alleging that she had used racial slurs and even suggested dressing African-American waiters as slaves for a wedding. During a deposition for the case, Deen admitted that she had used the N-word in the past, an admission that was … not well received.

To quell public anger, Deen agreed to be interviewed on the Today Show, but then she didn't show up. Instead, she posted three video apologies to YouTube. Two of the videos largely focused on missing her Today Show interview, which suggests a slightly skewed view of the public outrage. In the first video, Deen tearfully begged the public to "forgive me for the mistakes that I've made." Oddly, this video was quickly taken down from her channel and replaced with the more-media oriented apologies. It's almost like she thought her real mistake was managing the apology poorly, and not that thing the little people wanted her to apologize over.

BP's Tony Hayward

After BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, the company knew they were faced with a major disaster. Angry comments were spilling out across the internet, threatening to swamp BP's good reputation and ignite a firestorm of recrimination. The company swung into action right away, launching a major ad blitz, including a campaign asking users to "Friend BP on YouTube … for the latest Gulf Spill video updates." At the center of the campaign was a 59-second video featuring CEO Tony Hayward declaring "To those affected and your families, I'm deeply sorry."

Response to the video was less than positive, since it premiered when oil was still flooding into the largest marine spill in history. Even President Obama condemned it, arguing that BP should have spent the money cleaning up the environment, instead of their corporate reputation. Others noted that the video showed images of protected pelicans and cleanup crews on pristine white sand beaches, whereas a more honest ad might have shown dying pelicans and cleanup crews on beaches actually affected by the oil spill.

The lesson? If you're going to apologize for causing an environmental disaster, explain how you're going to fix it, instead of just pretending you already have.