It will have been hard to miss hearing and reading about the recent horse meat scandal which is causing havoc within the food industry in the UK and across Europe. I wrote a blog for Hatch Communications website looking at which brands have failed to impress by ‘horsing’ around with their comms during the last few weeks since the story broke, and which ones have turned it to their advantage…
#Fail… Too Late Tesco
Philip Clarke, chief executive of the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, publicly commented for the first time today since the food crisis erupted six weeks ago. He stated that horsemeat contamination was “wider than anyone imagined” and had been a “significant breach in trust” to their customers, which had been caused by “sloppy” suppliers “cutting corners for their own gain”.
From this he has vowed to make sure meat is supplied closer to home, but many, including British farmers say this is ‘too little too late’! Pressure has been placed on British farmers for years to cut down on cost, resulting in many going out of business and giant supermarkets sourcing meat from across Europe. We will have to see how this plays out, as the National Farmers Union president, Peter Kendall said that while supermarkets already bragged about sourcing certain meats, fresh fruit and dairy products in the UK, they need to extend this activity to cheaper and processed foods.
The message is clear – ALL supermarkets need to start sourcing high-quality traceable products from farmers in the UK.
#Fail… Burger King Twitter gets McHacked
Two weeks after traces of horse meat were found in the ‘beef’ burgers from a European Burger King supplier, the chain’s Twitter account was hacked and the hackers a whopper of an announcement that the company had been bought out by McDonald’s, changing all the settings to resemble the golden arches branding.
Luckily the chain realised what had happened a few hours later, but this still wasn’t quick enough to stop the social storm that had already resulted.
However, social karma came back to bite McDonald’s too as they tried to prove where their meat is sourced by using the trends #meetthefarmers and #McDstories, but all the received was a backlash of harsh comments and critics panning the taste of their food.
#Winner… Horse Power in Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper was one of the brands to creatively capitalizes on the horsemeat fiasco by creating a tongue in cheek advert. The ad features a picture of the beefed-up new Mini John Cooper Works Roadster, with a headline that reads, “Beef. With a lot of horses hidden in it.”… we loved this one! Brands who act quickly can make something amusing and light hearted out of a serious issue.
#Winner…Business Boosted for British Butchers
The real winners to have come out of the scandal is local butchers and farmers who have reported a boom in sales over the past few weeks. Not only are they seeing more customers through the door, many are hoping that consumers will turn to their local butchers for good as they seek someone they can trust.