If a firm has invested a lot of time and resources in establishing its brand, you’ll have an emotional reaction when you hear its name. Based on previous interactions with the company, recent stories about them, and/or the opinions of individuals in your social circle, your reaction could be positive or negative. Each of these elements contributes to the organization’s overall image. People naturally associate favourable feelings with organisations that have a strong brand images.
However, these reputations can be quite vulnerable. Only one error can undermine a customer’s love and faith in a brand. This is especially true when the issue involves the health and safety of the customers.
Companies must develop strategies to address these issues as soon as they arise in order to regain the public’s trust. If they do not recover from these errors, they risk losing these consumers for good.
Let’s take a look at seven organisations that had a bad reputation and how they overcame it. Of course, we limited the scope of this blog post to occurrences involving over-the-counter (OTC) healthcare items or consumer health in general.
Johnson & Johnson is best known for one of its most recognisable products, Johnson’s Baby Powder. However, consumers have lost faith in the corporation as a result of the once-popular product.
Crushed talc is used in the baby powder to absorb moisture and reduce friction, keeping skin dry and preventing rashes. Many talc sources are naturally contaminated with asbestos, which causes mesothelioma. However, it appears that Johnson & Johnson did not address this issue in their baby powder.
Asbestos-related ailments typically manifest years after repeated exposure. The corporation has consistently denied that the product caused cancer. However, documents released in 2017 revealed that executives were aware of asbestos risks as early as the 1970s.
The world’s largest fast-food corporation has long been chastised for its unhealthy menu offerings. However, after the documentary Super Size Me premiered in 2004, McDonald’s faced an especially big wave of criticism. One of the most infamous illustrations of how quickly a brand’s reputation can deteriorate.
Morgan Spurlock’s documentary was a social experiment on how the chain’s cuisine affects health. Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month, and every time an employee asked if he wanted to “Supersize” his meal, he agreed. A Supersize meal came with around 200 grammes of french fries and 1.25 litres of soft drink.
Spurlock gained about 25 pounds and had higher body mass and cholesterol levels. His doctor advised him to discontinue the diet since it was causing liver damage. Because of concerns about consuming junk food, McDonald’s UK sales plunged to one of their lowest levels following the documentary.
McDonald’s reacted by discontinuing their Supersize portions. The restaurant company changed its menu to offer healthy options like salad and milk. It also introduced the “Every Step Counts” campaign. Handing away pedometers promotes the benefits of regular activity. It even provided funding for a drive to train community football coaches.
The American lingerie business Victoria’s Secret received criticism in 2014 after launching a campaign with the slogan “The Perfect ‘Body.'” The slogan appears on a picture of Victoria’s Secret angels and is related to its “Body” lingerie range.
These were supermodels who were extremely slim, emphasising that the “ideal figure” was tiny and flawless. These are bodies that the majority of women cannot safely achieve. People considered this as harmful to women’s health and self-esteem, while also encouraging eating disorders and inappropriate dieting.
Consumers expressed their displeasure online, and over 30,000 people signed a petition requesting that the firm fix and apologise for the insensitive advertisement. In response, Victoria’s Secret revised its motto to “A Body for Every Body,” but keeping the same image. People, however, responded positively to the fact that the corporation made this move and that it was a start in the right direction.
During an internal presentation that included press from the Financial Times, Nestle confessed that 60% of its food and beverage items are not considered nutritious.
According to the presentation, only 37% of Nestle’s food and beverages receive a grade higher than 3.5 on Australia’s health star rating system. Pet food and specialist medical nutrition items were not included in the ranking.
Nestle has already faced criticism for misrepresenting the ingredients and healthiness of numerous of their other products.
To offer you a few instances…
Maggi noodles were banned from grocery shops in 2015 because they were so high in carbohydrates and misrepresented so many components.
Orange San Pellegrino received the lowest and most unhealthy food product rating.
Strawberry-flavoured Nesquik was loaded with sugar.
Nestle stated that it values the nourishment it provides to its customers after the presentation was released to the public. Its public relations team also stated that the corporation will work harder to improve the nutritional content of its product line.
In 2018, H&M sparked anger by releasing a new line of animal-themed children’s sweaters. I know what you’re thinking: how could this harm the organization’s brand image?
The outcry arose because the image used by H&M to promote the new line included an African American toddler wearing a hoodie. The fact that it was a sweater was not the issue; the uproar was caused by the design of the sweatshirt.
The words “coolest monkey in the jungle” were written over the breast of the hoodie.
The term “Monkey” has a dreadful history as a racial epithet directed at African Americans. Many individuals thought the image demonstrated that the firm thought the child was less-than-human.
Other sweatshirts from the same brand, on the other hand, had white models. A white child modelled a hoodie from the same line with the word “survival expert” on it. “Junior tour guide,” said another. Many individuals thought the direct connection was intentional.
People on Twitter accused the company of profiteering from online outrage and negative publicity. They assumed the parallel was made on purpose.
So, how did H&M feel about this?
Interpretations of a brand’s actions aren’t always evident until the backlash occurs. H&M appears to have missed this comparison before launching its social media campaign. According to an ex-employee, the Swedish shop is occasionally “clueless” regarding cultural concerns.
H&M took the image off all of its social media channels. However, the infamous sweater is still available for purchase on its UK-based website.
Each of these organisations’ goods contributed to a health issue in some way. Whether or whether it was beyond their control, their reputations suffered and customers lost trust.
It was critical that they individually rectified these challenges and devised a creative strategy to remind customers why they should continue to adore their products and services. While some customers never returned, each of these organisations’ actions helped to rebuild their brand image.
When products endanger consumers’ safety and health, they prey on their emotions. If items cause harm to consumers, the company’s reputation suffers. However, having a response ready to remind clients why they trusted you in the first place will help keep them coming back.