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10 to 1 It’ll Damage Customer Trust

26 January 2013


In the last couple of days the joke has been on Tesco, with the punchlines trotting out clever one-liners based on the ‘high Shergar content’ of their burgers or warning punters that ‘theyrrrrrrre off!’ Behind the banter two facts are clear. The discovery of horse DNA in almost 30 per cent of the meat content of one of Tesco’s burger products is a revelation that has rocked the food industry. Secondly being the ‘butty’ of the nation’s jokes, is bad for business.

It took the Austrian wine industry over a decade to recover from the discovery of antifreeze in its wines in 1985. Tesco is only now at the first hurdle and it’s clear that there will be far-reaching consequences surrounding reputation and consumer trust.

So what can the supermarket giant do in terms of damage limitation? Much depends on their handling of the crisis and the basis of core messages reaching customers in these early days of the media frenzy.

So what do customers want?

They want an apology.
They want to understand why this happened in the first place.
And they want to know what will be done to safeguard them in the future.

That is the basis of best practice in crisis media handling.

So what lessons can be learnt from Tesco’s embarrassment? Be prepared. Don’t wait until there is horsemeat in your burgers or your trainline is deluged by ‘the wrong kind of snow’.
Action now could safeguard your company’s reputation for the future.

I’ll wager a Pony that Tesco’s spokespeople are all trained in media crisis management. Are you?

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