Licking a Crisis
When the video went viral last week of a young Texas woman opening an ice cream container, licking the inside of the lid and then putting the product back in the freezer, it made most of us just say, “Yuck.” While the story probably made viewers a little queasy, it also left many of us wondering whether we should buy that next carton of ice cream.
While most viewers were focused on the disgusting (sociopathic?) act in Texas, the ice cream manufacturer, Blue Bell Creameries, had to concern itself with its reputation. Would that image cause consumers to have doubts about buying the product? Would there be a lasting impact? And what to do when the act spawned social media copycats?
The company took no chances. It acted quickly with a crisis plan. First, it posted a statement calling the licking incident a malicious act of food tampering. Then, it removed not only the “contaminated” container but the brand’s entire stock of half gallon ice creams at the store. Finally, the statement underscored that product tampering is not a joke and won’t be tolerated.
As we have seen before, companies’ reputations can be damaged in an instant by the bad actions of others. Blue Bell was not about to let that happen. The company had a plan in place and took all the correct steps to tell customers, “you can trust us; we are on your side.”
It will have to double down on that message as the case against the offending lid licker moves forward. That may include a move to tamper-resistant packaging as the final piece of customer reassurance.
Kirk Dorn is the Senior Director in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.