The forgetting of a state off Australian Day merchandise was never going to be A happy move on Woolworths’ part.
The Fresh Food People launched Australian Day caps that were missing Tasmania. It didn’t get a mention. Not even a mistaken dropped sewing stich.
B&T understands the caps were part of a wider-range of Australia Day merchandise and when the chain was alerted to the error, the caps were removed from stores.
However, social media was quick to lampoon the supermarket chain for not having the entire country represented on the caps.
Woolworths responded in a statement: “Woolworths is aware of the issue and in the process of withdrawing the product from our supermarket shelves.” At the time of writing, the statement was not on the grocery retailer’s website or social media channels.
However, social media user Guy Tansey, who says he was the one who first alerted the chain, said the chain responded to him when first posting.
His original post to Woolworths.
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And Woolworths’ response to the post.
Woolworths declined to comment further for this article.
However, the one-lined response from the chain has been labelled “robotic” and indicative of the chain not taking responsibility.
“Instead of ‘fessing up and apologising for the mistakes, their statements seem dismissive and defensive,” said Geoffrey Stackhouse, PRIA’s (Public Relations Institute of Australia) crisis guru and managing director at media training and crisis company Clarity Solutions.
“Woolworths’ fumble with the map of Tasmania is the third in a series of merchandising and promotional blunders that suggests the Fresh Food people just don’t get the Australian public. And that should be setting off alarm bells with analysts and shareholders because picking the Zeitgeist is a core competency for any retailer.”
The error follows on from other disasters the supermarket chain has been embroiled in such as the ANZAC Day ‘Fresh in our Memories’ fiasco and “racist” singlet ‘Australia, if you don’t love it, Leave’.
“And despite all the practice they’ve had in recent years they still haven’t got their crisis comms right,” Stackhouse continued.
In fact it looks like there’s something rotten with the Fresh Food people when it comes to taking responsibility.
“There is no apology for the offence they’ve caused, no reassuring statement about how they value Tasmania and no recognition that management even noticed: the issue didn’t warrant the attention of an executive, just a nameless minion.”
It’s been a pretty robotic response, believed James Wright, managing director of PR agency Red Agency and group chief operating officer of Havas Worldwide Australia
“They should have seen this as an opportunity to provide a response that was more human, more apologetic and a chance to poke some fun at themselves to diffuse the situation,” he said.
He suggests using the supermarket chain’s various channels to push some sort of apology.
“They could use their social channels smartly to do this, or maybe produce an image of Australia, including the Apple Isle of course, using their ‘fresh fruit’ with a ‘sorry Tassie’ theme.
“It’s a pretty silly mistake and it’s not as if this hasn’t happened before, you would imagine brands and organisations would learn.”
Social media user Tansey is disappointed in how the media has been reporting the issue. He told B&T he contacted a number of news sites to rectify the use of words such as ‘forced to remove’ but had not heard back.
Below is his response to all the media malarky.