AdNews asked an interesting question this week (in Mouth Off)- I can’t link directly to Mouth Off as it’s for subscribers only, and only after 30 days post-print. :

Can a Brand Recover From a Well-Publicised Product Recall?
We all know consumers have long memories. But just how long? Fisher-Price will be asking that question after a lead scare this month forced it to recall a huge number of toys. Now, it is likely to have to spend up big on a brand recovery campaign to reverse the negative publicity.

The responses from 5 agency people varied:

Randal Glennon, GM Melbourne Grey Worldwide“Consumers forgive” and goes on to talk about the type of product is important. We don’t like recalls of things we put in our mouth. 😛
Andrea Kerekes, Managing Partner, Open Dialogue“It’s about showing leadership” opened with a whammy – there are more than 8,800 recalls in the last 20 years. And directs us to recalls.gov.au. Points out fast dissemination of information is critical.
Amy Smith, CEO, JWT Australia and NZ“They can be positive” because it gives the company an opportunity to be transparent (naked in blogging terms, i guess) and demonstrate the companies true values.
Peter Fitzhardinge, GM, Leo Burnett Sydney (don’t click, hijacks the browser) – “One chance” to get the response right. Have a marketing emergency response plan (he didn’t exactly say that, but it’s what I say. :P) Put customers first, be open and up front, update consumers often.
Greta Donaldson, Director, Greta Donaldson Publicity (no website?) – “It won’t happen overnight” and “PR is the only way to respond to product recalls; running ads in situations like this is like throwing petrol on a fire. “ and she goes on to say PR professionals will change consumer perceptions to restore brand credibility.

I’m wondering what you think about how Web 2.0 Communications change how we deal with “brand worst nightmare” scenarios – what do you think of these responses? Here are some more of my questions – have a go if you like and don’t assume the answers are “obvious”. 😀

  • Now that the blogosphere can take these kinds of situations and run with them, is that good or bad?
  • What steps should (maybe) Fisher Price have taken before the recall to improve recovery?
  • Would a social network have helped?
  • Would anything have helped?

What do you think of the responses by the PR and Marketing people above? Anyone else read the article?