In March, frozen pizzas from the Buitoni brand as well as Kinder chocolates were recalled, due to contamination with E. coli bacteria and salmonellosis.
Two children died after eating Buitoni pizzas in this case.
While the general manager of Ferrero France, the parent company of Kinder, answered questions from readers of Le
this Friday, the two brands have been harshly criticized for their lack of communication for two months.
Giving pride back to employees, changing control processes, apologizing, changing the name… Methods for relaunching a brand diverge.
Three crisis communication experts answered questions from
When the supermarket shelves start to scare.
In March, two health scandals erupted almost at the same time, affecting family products and popular with consumers: Buitoni pizzas contaminated with E.
coli and Kinder chocolates contaminated with salmonella in the run-up to Easter.
The emotion was all the more intense as at least two children died after eating a pizza.
With their production lines shut down, the two brands face a darkened future and must now react.
The concomitance of the two scandals could also make them more difficult to manage, with some consumers “risking confusing the two brands,” warns Lisa Wyler
director of Lisa Wyler Communication
Because after the recall and before considering a return to the shelves, it is necessary to “restore the confidence” of consumers, explains to
Elisabeth Laborde, crisis communication expert and founder of the Elila agency.
First step according to her, “acknowledge your mistakes and apologize”.
Nicolas Neykov, Managing Director France of Ferrero, the parent company of Kinder, thus engaged in an exercise of contrition with the readers of Le
A media that has the advantage of "talking to consumers", underlines the expert.
But an awakening which "comes a little late", two months after the start of the scandal, judge Lisa Wyler.
However, “responsiveness and empathy are the baba when people are sick”, she insists.
Nestlé, the “secret” parent company
On the Buitoni side, on the other hand, there has been complete silence since March 30, after a few laconic press releases.
This discretion is also harshly criticized by consumer associations, especially when Buitoni offers a voucher to parents whose child is hospitalized.
The company "is under possible indictment", reports Sandrine Place, crisis communication consultant at the Rep-publica agency, "they cannot say everything because it will be held against them at trial".
The argument, brandished by the brand, does not convince Elisabeth Laborde, who points to the absence of the Nestlé parent company in the press releases.
A “choice” which “translates neither sincerity nor empathy”, but rather a “misunderstanding of what consumers expect today”, according to her.
The difference in the involvement of the parent companies in these two scandals is glaring.
On the one hand, Ferrero answers all questions about Kinder chocolates, asserts its status as an international brand, its seriousness, its foundation in 1946, its concern for the public.
On the other, "Nestlé has always had the image of a secret company", believes Sandrine Place, and this is not its first health scandal.
Rename yourself to forget?
But the choice of such different communications also raises questions about how the groups will act to repair their subsidiaries.
Are they worried about cascading repercussions for all their brands?
"The consumer does not know very well how these groups are structured," adds Sandrine Place, for whom a boycott at group level, ranging from the dairy range to Herta, is difficult to envisage.
"The public is too informed", thinks on the contrary Elisabeth Laborde, so that Nestlé can hope to clear customs.
The other well-known strategy in a crisis is for a company to change its name.
According to her, "the temptation may be greater" for Nestlé to rename Buitoni than for Kinder.
“There were two dead children”, a drama which “can stick to their skin”.
And this rebranding could even “be seen positively, if it is accompanied by communication to explain the organizational changes, the new processes.
The opportunity to write a new page”.
So be careful not to do too much “gadgeting” for Buitoni, warns Elisabeth Laborde.
Talk to your employees
In a health scandal, it is difficult to be satisfied with a wipe of the sponge to restart the machine.
Especially since certain photos of the Buitoni factory, shared on social networks, have made an impression and the version of Pierre-Alexandre Teulié, general manager of communication for Nestlé France, according to which the factory had nothing to blame itself at the regulatory level, was demolished by the DGCCRF.
The health authorities "are not going to let them get away with it", anticipates Sandrine Place.
Photos taken in a Buitoni pizza factory.
The article: https://t.co/BOwpIHoodT pic.twitter.com/KRgdPwOeFl
— evolution (@evolution) March 31, 2022
Access to this content has been blocked to respect your choice of consent
By clicking on "
", you accept the deposit of cookies by external services and will thus have access to the content of our partners
And to better remunerate 20 Minutes, do not hesitate to accept all cookies, even for one day only, via our "I accept for today" button in the banner below.
More information on the Cookie Management Policy page.
New measures must therefore be put in place, then “explained internally to employees”, list Elisabeth Laborde.
For employees, who no longer necessarily have anything to be proud of working for a brand, "it's important to provide some answers", insists Lisa Wyler, "because they can be taken to task in their personal lives" .
Confidence must therefore be rebuilt at all levels: internally, with the public authorities, distributors and then consumers, indicates Sandrine Place, to restore what she calls the “permit to operate”.
Knowing how to respond to challenges
"The question raised by these scandals was that of self-checks", recalls the specialist in sensitive communication.
A message heard by Ferrero, who has now announced that he will call on independent laboratories, which meets the conditions of the crisis resolution plan framed by Elisabeth Laborde: "show that you are aware of the problem, that it is resolved, and that it will not be able to reproduce”.
And then ?
You have to be patient.
"Trust takes time to be created, but breaks very quickly", abound the three communication experts.
"These are brands that people love, so they have even higher expectations," says Lisa Wyler, extolling the merits of "transparency".
"You have to communicate on the know-how, the safety" on a regular basis, adds Elisabeth Laborde.
In short, completely rethink the way of talking to parents about products intended for their children.
Food safety: New complaints after contamination linked to Buitoni pizzas and Kinder chocolates
Buitoni pizzas contaminated with E.
coli: "An absolutely terrible human tragedy", laments Olivier Véran