What All Brands Can Learn From The Frozen Berry Scandal

What All Brands Can Learn From The Frozen Berry Scandal

InsideOut Public Relations Director, Nicole Reaney, argues there are lots of lessons to be learned for all brands from the recent frozen berry crisis in Australia.

As I walked into my local Woolworths, going about the usual thoughts of how I can turn Monday night dinner into an MKR culinary experience, I looked up to see fresh berries, in a prominent front-of-store position. My first thoughts were, here we go… Woolies are going to take advantage of the Hep A outbreak and charge a premium knowing full well that frozen berries were now crossed off the shopping list of most mums. It was refreshing to see the berries displayed at a price lower than they have been previously, so I bought some. I wasn’t even after berries. And now more brands are smartly capitalising on the situation, like Aussie brand ‘Matilda’s’ which is launching its berries to market this year.

Nicole Reaney

Unfortunately for Patties, the company behind Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet frozen berries, I doubt similar buying situations are currently happening for their products. At last count there have been 26 reported cases of Aussies contracting Hepatitis A and being connected to eating the frozen berries. Patties’ company statement, with its CEO quoted, denies the links and maintains it has removed products as a precautionary measure only.

Coming from years in crisis communications, even I’m starting to question the actions of the company over the past few weeks of being in the spotlight, and am beginning to consider the possibilities of their brand ever fully recovering. Soul Origin faced similar reprimands in relation to its tuna and continues to be in the face of media.

The best thing Patties has done is complied with the authorities and removed product from all stores. Additionally, it has presented FAQs, and its company positioning (direct from the CEO) as its home page.

When in crisis mode companies need to resolve the issue as swiftly and with as little brand damage as possible. Other brands in its portfolio and the general business needs to continue operating at the same time.

In observing the media, Patties is really lacking a positive position, with its products being directly linked to the incidence, and whilst there is a lack of ‘voice’ in the coverage (despite its company positioning), the average consumer will believe what the media is telling them.

Despite the flourish of coverage in the marketplace, only a single 2GB media interview is published, acting as a homing-point for consumers wanting to hear directly from the company. I would take a stab that the company released a generic statement to media but has been a little closed in its strategy of putting the CEO forward.

Clever organisations can actually turn a crisis into something positive, once the dust settles, and even go on to boost its share and sales afterwards. We’ve seen it happen with multiple brands like Mars. To do this, you need absolute transparency and intention to resolve the incident honestly and efficiently, a CEO who the public listens to and in their own way builds a relationship with them, easy access for everyone to get their questions answered, and a two-way communication platform.

Patties could be much more strategic in utilising the power of social media – a lively platform where information can be presented in a straight-forward ‘consumer-friendly’ way, regular updates incorporated (last facebook post was 20 February – a month ago) and prevailing questions replied to. While its website could use much more interactivity and regular updates – for instance via a CEO video – rather than a single holding page on the matter. The frequency of communication is important and demonstrates the company cares. A dedicated help line could be profiled and corporate advertisements used to supplement media relations and additional digital media strategies, to ensure key messages and updates are being followed and understood.

And what do you do when your category is in the midst of crisis mode, how do you avoid being swept up in the same storm? You too need to be in ‘crisis mode’ and protect the brand’s reputation. From a media relations point of view, you really don’t want to be caught up in the ‘chatter’ and have your brand associated with the incident. Consider third party spokespeople to represent your positioning – such as industry bodies, health experts or authorities. Employ your suite of communication platforms and ensure you utilise the opportunity to inform the public and your key stakeholders of the situation.

And like Matilda’s, identify a media angle that the public will respond to, like buying local.




Please login with linkedin to comment

Designworks Starts At 60

Latest News

‘Those In the Know DFO’: DFO Launch Brand Refresh With Creative Agency Taboo
  • Advertising

‘Those In the Know DFO’: DFO Launch Brand Refresh With Creative Agency Taboo

DFO takes on brand refresh with creative campaign in partnership with Melbourne-based creative agency Taboo. Premium outlet shopping centre DFO has released a new creative campaign in collaboration with creative agency Taboo, ‘Those In The Know DFO’, encouraging buyers to purchase luxury products for a discounted price. In response to the growing demand for face-to-face […]

One Man’s Waste Is A Major PR Win For The Bravery
  • Advertising

One Man’s Waste Is A Major PR Win For The Bravery

Independent purpose PR, Communications, and Social Media agency, The Bravery, has strengthened its commitment to enhancing behavioural change in waste after being appointed by Dulverton Waste Management in North West Tasmania. Lead image: The Bravery Team The Bravery has been appointed as the lead communications, community engagement and PR partner after a competitive tender process. […]

Broadsheet Promotes Claire Booth To National Sales & Partnerships Director Role
  • Media

Broadsheet Promotes Claire Booth To National Sales & Partnerships Director Role

Broadsheet has promoted Claire Booth to the national sales and partnerships director role. Since its launch in 2009, Broadsheet has published news, features, and events coverage across the Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Tasmania, and New Zealand. Claire Booth was acquired by the Broadsheet team in 2019 from The Story Lab and […]

Yahoo Academy Invites Applications From Future Industry Leaders For 2024 Program
  • Marketing

Yahoo Academy Invites Applications From Future Industry Leaders For 2024 Program

Nominations are now open for Yahoo Academy 2024, an immersive talent building program which helps 30 rising media agency and marketing superstars across Australia and Singapore develop the skills needed to lead and thrive in the workplace of the future. Taking place over two days in Sydney, Yahoo Academy 2024 will engage participants with in-depth […]

Taboola Appoints Experienced APAC Advertising Exec To Manage New Zealand Sales
  • Marketing

Taboola Appoints Experienced APAC Advertising Exec To Manage New Zealand Sales

Taboola, has announced the appointment of former Taboola APAC director and skilled digital strategist Joe France (lead image) as its New Zealand sales lead, as it continues to expand its presence in the ANZ market. Under his new remit, France will be responsible for cultivating key partnerships and delivering innovative solutions to meet evolving New […]

Activation Union Hires Bree Mankin As Managing Partner
  • Media

Activation Union Hires Bree Mankin As Managing Partner

Activation Union is thrilled to announce the appointment of Bree Mankin as Managing Partner. In this pivotal role, Bree will spearhead the agency’s growth initiatives and client strategy, leveraging her extensive experience and innovative approach in delivering exceptional results for her clients. With over two decades of experience in marketing and communications, Bree is a […]

Toyota Launches Integrated Electric Vehicle Campaign Via HERO
  • Campaigns

Toyota Launches Integrated Electric Vehicle Campaign Via HERO

Toyota Australia has launched its highly anticipated new all-electric vehicle, the bZ4X, on Australian shores through a nationwide integrated campaign. Spearheaded by a big spot, the campaign was created by independent creative agency HERO, which sees a typical EV sceptic named Barry behind the wheel of an all-new Toyota bZ4X much to the surprise of […]

Canva Launches First Ever Podcast: Design Surfaces
  • Media

Canva Launches First Ever Podcast: Design Surfaces

Canva has announced its very first podcast: Design Surfaces. Covering all areas of design, from brand campaigns to UX flows, the podcast digs deep into the intricate parts of designers’ brains to unearth valuable insights, unique perspectives, and what makes them tick. The Design specialty at Canva is made up of some of the most […]

SBS Launches Development Fund To Find Australia’s Next Top Documentaries
  • Media

SBS Launches Development Fund To Find Australia’s Next Top Documentaries

SBS is searching for its most daring, unflinchingly fearless and boundary-smashing factual format yet, issuing a call out for impactful ideas for new documentary series unlike anything seen on Australian screens before, with up to $50,000 in development funding on offer. Announced this morning at the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) in Melbourne, SBS is […]

Resolution Nabs Sarah Truong From PHD
  • Advertising

Resolution Nabs Sarah Truong From PHD

Full-service media agency Resolution has appointed Sarah Truong as head of investment to lead the agency’s investment product. Sarah joins from PHD where she was Group Investment Director for half a decade. With 14 years’ experience in the media industry including seven years at media agency, Carat, Sarah a proven track record for delivering results-driven […]