How Crock-Pot should defend itself from the “This Is Us” scriptwriters

Photo: MN Prairie Roots via Pinterest

On the melodramatic NBC show “This Is Us,” a fire started by a slow-cooker burns the house down. This forced Crock-Pot, the iconic slow-cooker brand, to defend its reputation. Unlike most brands under attack, its response shows restraint. A little more wit would be even better.

Crock-Pot defends its brand

In the show, a second-hand crockpot (that’s what everyone calls them, trademark or not) shorts out and causes tragic results. As the Washington Post describes, the emotional resonance of this show actually caused some fans to go throw their slow cookers in the trash in protest. Through no fault of its own, Crock-Pot had to defend its brand. Here’s their statement:

Crock-Pot understands the concerns brought up by last night’s episode of “This Is Us,” and we too are heartbroken by the latest development in Jack’s storyline. However, 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.

In addition, and most relevant to the concerns consumers are having after watching the recent “This Is Us” episode, our Crock-Pot slow cookers are low current, low wattage (typically no more than 200 or 300 watts) appliances with self-regulating, heating elements. The product is designed to cook foods over a longer period of time at low temperatures and the switches connect to only one side of the power line voltage, so there is never a high voltage applied directly across our switches. The switches within our slow cookers are subjected to additional internal testing, which includes a Rotary Knob Endurance test, Rotary Knob Force Test and Flame Burning Test and constructed of self-extinguishing, flame resistant material.

Our hope is that the team at NBC’s “This Is Us” will help us in spreading factual information regarding our product’s safety. While we know their primary mission is to entertain — something they have continued to excel in — we also feel they have a responsibility to inform. Just like many fans, we will be watching next week’s episode to see how Jack’s story progresses and, regardless of the outcome, we want consumers first and foremost to know they are safe when using their Crock-Pot.

I noticed a few things about this statement:

  • It’s not overwrought. Crock-Pot doesn’t threaten lawsuits or demean NBC and “This Is Us.”
  • It’s cites facts, not weasel words. They’ve never received a consumer complaint. The design makes such a fire impossible. The switches are connected to only one side of the power line. These are presumably true and believable statements.
  • It demonstrates fondness for the show. I’m betting that the type of people who buy Crock-Pots have a lot of overlap with “This Is Us” viewers. So rather than attack the show, the statement talks about being “heartbroken by the latest developments in Jack’s storyline” and praises the entertainment value of “This Is Us.” This statement wasn’t written completely by humorless lawyers.
  • It does hit one clunky note. There’s too much about safety, and “Our hope is that the team at NBC’s ”This Is Us’ will help us in spreading factual information regarding our product’s safety” is pretty silly. That’s not the point of the story.

On Facebook, a lighter take

Here’s what the brand posted on Facebook:

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker

‘THIS IS US’ SPOILER ALERT. We’re still trying to mend our heart after watching ‘This Is Us’ on Tuesday night. America’s favorite dad and husband deserved a better exit and Crock-Pot® shares in your devastation. 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®. XOXO, Crock-Pot® Forever in Your Heart & Forever in Your Home❤️

That’s a little lighter, but a salesy at the same time. It might save a few Crock-Pots from the waste bin.

One step further

The brand is defending itself from fiction. This is an absurd position to be in. Crock-Pot is clearly ready to have a little fun with the response. Why not have a lot more? Humor is the right approach here.

So here’s the statement they could have written:

Unanswered questions for the “This Is Us” viewer:

Now that Season 2 is done, there are still some questions we wonder about:

  • How did Jack actually die?
  • How did Rebecca and Miguel hook up?
  • How did William finally get sober?
  • Will Tobey and Kate get married?

But there are a few questions we already know the answers to:

  • What brand of slow-cooker burned the house down? I’m not sure, but it wasn’t a Crock-Pot, because even though 100 million Crock-pots have been sold, nobody has ever reported an incident like that with one.
  • Could a Crock-Pot catch on fire like that? It’s very unlikely. It only uses as much power as a couple of light bulbs, and there’s no significant voltage across the switch. And the cookers are built out of self-extinguishing, flame resistant material.
  • Should I throw my Crock-Pot away? It’s fiction. Go ahead and cry your eyes out, but don’t blame your real Crock-Pot for the failings of a fictional appliance caught in a plot twist. Cook something comforting instead.

What would you do if this was your brand?

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  1. I’m heartbroken that you didn’t make an awful pun about a crock pot of bullshit. (No I’m not).
    What I might have done is create a humorous, fan-fiction style, alternative video, in which the slow cooker is a Crock-Pot brand product that’s perfectly safe and nothing goes wrong. The owner of the cooker leaves it on. The Crock-Pot does what it is supposed to do. The household can sleep soundly and enjoy a delicious, alternative, anti-cliffhanger.

  2. never watched tiu…but use my 40 year-old crock pot often, and coincidentally, just looked at the slicker new ones at a sears clearance sale. I have all the time in the world to cook, but the slow cooker offers unique cooking options….stews with cheaper cuts of meat ; yogurt-making…etc. I don’t know WHAT the crack-pot/crock-pot protesters are protesting by throwing away functioning crock pots…the show?, the appliance?….anyway, they may wind up upgrading to the newer models soon enough……good for crockpot!

  3. If I were heading up marketing for CrockPot, I’d likely have crafted a response that included the following messages … not all slow cookers are Crock Pots … Jack’s slow cooker was clearly a knock-off and NOT a genuine CrockPot brand slow cooker… the best way to ensure your family’s safety is to ONLY use a genuine CrockPot… to help ensure your safety, CrockPot will send a $10 off coupon good towards the purchase of a genuine CrockPot slow cooker to everyone who posts a picture of themselves destroying or throwing out a non-CrockPot brand slow cooker.

  4. Crock-Pots (and other slow cookers) are not listed in the top 21 causes of death in the U.S. annually. Perhaps when Jack was supposed to live, there was a rash of slow-cooker deaths, but I don’t recall it. My inclination as head of PR for Crock-Pot, therefore, would have been to ignore the issue. While I smiled at Adam’s response (above), I don’t think Crock-Pot gains anything by trashing other slow cookers; they probably don’t want anyone to associate slow cookers with fire risk.