Pepsi answers a PR nightmare with a PR nightmare for their popular Mountain Dew soda. In a recent lawsuit, Pepsi denies responsibility for a mouse getting into a can of their soda, backing it up with an expert witness that says if a mouse did get in the soda it would’ve dissolved by the time of consumption.
Ronald Ball, a man who claims to have encountered a mouse in his Mountain Dew in 2009 is currently suing Pepsi for $50,000. In an effort to refute the accusation Pepsi’s lawyers released a statement citing expert testimony that:
“The mouse would have dissolved in the soda had it been in the can from the time of its bottling until the day the plaintiff drank it.” – Madison County Record
So it seems that Pepsi’s legal and communication teams had a tough decision to make. Would it be more detrimental to the company to admit the possibility of a mouse becoming trapped in can and surrendering the $50K, or that Mountain Dew can and will dissolve that very same mouse from the time of bottling to consumption.
“This seems like a winning-the-battle-while-surrendering-the-war kind of strategy that hinges on the argument that Pepsi’s product is essentially a can of bright green/yellow battery acid.” – The Atlantic Wire
Either way this story was spun, Pepsi’s PR team was going have their hands full trying to salvage the reputation of the company. Legally, Pepsi might come out of this unscathed, but from a PR perspective there is a long road ahead.
Interestingly enough, it seems like Pepsi never actually denied that a mouse could get into a can of Mountain Dew, or provided insight as to how they would avoid this in the future. They merely stated that if one did find its way into a can, the consumer would never know.
Sometimes there is just no-good way to handle a PR Nightmare, however taking ownership of an issue and letting your customers know you are working towards a solution can go a long way. Everyone makes mistakes, however how we communicate what we’ve learned from these mistakes and what they mean for the future can make all the difference.
Soundcloud , the extremely popular social web platform for musicians and DJ’s to share their music with the masses, got hit with a hacker attack which put the website down for an entire day. As Facebook and other social mediums blew up with different theories from users on why the site was down, when Soundcloud regained its functionality the company used their own platform to answer the cries of users with their own voice.
In addition to an email communication that was sent their user base the Soundcloud executive team posted this audio file to provide a very sincere message to their users: http://soundcloud.com/alex/thanks-and-were-sorry-at/s-4SBID
While I often use Soundcloud to listen to sets from my favorite DJ’s, I never thought about using it for recorded communications on company news and announcements. Because the platform has a built in comments features, users can provide their thoughts throughout the timeline of the recording providing organizations with valuable insights and feedback.
It got me thinking this is an interesting way to add some additional color to press releases and/or outbound communications when video isn’t an option and engage customers and users in conversations. (Note: with any recording, video or audio, to improve SEO the file should also be transcribed and posted somewhere on the company’s site.)
Turning this potential PR nightmare into on opportunity for showing how their platform works, the Soundcloud team has inspired me to consider their platform as an option for my clients to tell their story in their own words. It also reminded me how important it is for tech companies to user their own tools, whenever possible for communicating with the public and media.
The Girl Scouts are using social media sites to promote cookie sales with very good intentions. However being that it’s social media, conversations that emerge aren’t always what a company intends. Activists are using their Facebook wall to voice strong opinions about the use of palm oil in cookies.
The benefits of engaging in conversation on social media far outweigh the downside. The important thing to remember is that it’s a conversation. You must be prepared to engage on topics, both positive and negative.
“Two rogue scouts from Michigan have started a mini revolution online, demanding that [Girl Scouts] CEO Kathy Cloninger stop the use of palm oil. Cloninger has thus far ignored requests to meet with the girls and has not issued a statement about the controversy.
Cloninger did her girls another disservice by not facing the fire right away and hopping on her social networks to talk about the palm oil drama. Not employing our social media resources in times of crisis to talk to our customers is just silly — and Cloninger’s mistake can be our valuable lesson.”
Good thing Samoas are off the Point-Bl_nk diet, because its hard to deny them!
PR for Liquor Company asks people to “write-off their dreams” on a Barrel of laughs.
“The ‘Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams’ is a national outreach effort that will have the brand travelling across the country, visiting major cities, where Glenfiddich representatives will roll actual casks around the streets and encourage people to write their dreams and aspirations on them.”
We’re not exactly sure if this was a great idea. On the other hand we appreciate the sentiment that someone wrote on this photo we found of the barrel in question!