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Posts Tagged ‘Tesco’

Ad Watchdog Slams Tesco for ‘Misleading’ Horse Meat Crisis Campaign

Here’s a hint: when creating a damage control campaign, make sure your information is correct, because “spread the blame” strategies can come back to bite you.

UK retailer Tesco, which found itself in trouble last year over traces of horse meat detected in various products including Burger King sandwiches, has been criticized by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for making “misleading” claims. These charges related to a full-page release published in UK papers earlier this year under the headline “What burgers have taught us.

It’s an effective damage control statement, and the BBC even called it “a strange bit of poetry”, but it also reads like a cop-out.

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Virgin Media Sees Promo Opp in Burger King Horse Meat Scandal

Burger King horse meatWe all know that one brand’s bad news can be another brand’s opportunity–especially if the second group uses humor to make the most of it socially.

Virgin Movies, the film-centric wing of the Virgin empire, used the UK’s ongoing “horse meat posing as beef” scandal as an opportunity to drop a clever horse-themed promo via its Twitter feed. Here’s how that particular game works: make a reference to a topic currently engaging the audience and then perform a skillful segue into your own branding/promotional message.

First British supermarket Tesco, one of the key players in the scandal, published an apology in major newspapers to take responsibility for unknowingly carrying horse meat and ask for the public’s forgiveness. Then Virgin posted a satirical “statement” using nearly identical language:

“As some of our TiVo customers may have noticed, when searching through our tailor made collections of topical on-demand films, the collection, entitled #Mooovies, which promised a rich selection of films starring cows, did in fact contain films primarily featuring horses.

…we would like to take the opportunity to mark the positive contributions that both cows and horses have made to cinematic and television culture…

The team concluded with a funny call to action (and of course there was never any such thing as a #Mooovies collection):

If…you would like to suggest silly puns about cows or horses and classic film titles, please tweet them using the #Mooovies hashtag, copying in our @MoviesONVM handle.”

One note: Virgin’s reference to the horse meat debacle was almost hidden–the message wisely avoids incurring bad karma by mentioning Burger King, Tesco or any of the other brands caught up in the debacle, which has now spread to affect meat-lovers in 16 countries.

Can we think of American brands that have used the same “Turn another company’s crisis into a free PR opportunity” model?

Burger King Admits That Its Sandwiches May Contain Delicious Pony Meat

Saddle up for the week’s biggest PR fail: Burger King, a chain long known for its absolutely positively top-notch ingredients, finally admitted that some of its UK sandwiches might just happen to contain traces of horse meat (hey, at least this guy died in ignorant bliss).

After reports surfaced of a top supplier selling beef products packed with pony flesh, Burger King quickly dropped the suspect firm while simultaneously issuing ‘absolute assurances’ (aka denials) that any of its trademark Whoppers could be tainted by even the tiniest bits of the mares in question.

After performing DNA tests of samples taken from a single production plant, the company released a statement confirming that they showed “the presence of very small trace levels of equine DNA”. Now other top meat-oriented companies are taking pains to distance themselves from Silvercrest, an Irish distributor which for some time apparently included “meat off-cuts, including horse…imported in large frozen blocks from Poland” in its shipments to big UK brands like BK and the supermarket Tesco.

Now come charges of a deep-reaching cover up as Burger King races to preserve business as usual at its 500 UK locations. A spokesperson for a British food safety advocacy group called the company’s response “very shabby”, noting that “It really is not the open, honest and transparent way that we expect a major food company to treat its customers.”

Come on, guys. Didn’t Lance Armstrong teach us that vigorous denials only make the guilty look worse in retrospect?

And now for the requisite grossout joke: Next time we’re in London we’ll make sure not to order the “foal and chips.” Ugh…