In general, SorryWatch frowns on the concept of pre-apology. (Also its polar opposite, post-unapology.) Apologizing in advance for something you know is wrong but that you’re going to do anyway is douchey (unless you are Chris Pratt and you are pre-mocking your own idiocy rather than pre-asking for absolution for deliberate assholery) and taking back an apology that you’ve already offered is calculating and weaselly.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed Stephen Colbert’s attempts at crafting pre-apologies for Whole Foods, which has been caught repeatedly violating its own organic-Tibetan-rosewater-scented save-the-earth principles. The company has had to apologize for deliberately mis-labeling the weights of products so that customers were paying more for less, and has just bowed to pressure to stop selling products that are farmed or manufactured with prison labor. (“Everything at Whole Foods is supposed to be cage-free!” protested Colbert.)
As pre-apologies go, “Whole Foods would like to apologize for labeling something organic chicken that was actually stray cats with beaks glued on them” is pretty good. But for the full effect, Whole Foods should also pre-refund customers’ dead cat purchases, pre-donate to local animal shelters, and pre-explain how cat corpses and Gorilla Glue will never again be part of the consumer experience at Whole Foods. (They might also tell us exactly what steps are being undertaken to ensure that the company does not lie to shoppers or exploit others again…but that’s not funny.)