By Scott Van Camp
I was just reading some of the “PR Blunders of 2009” articles, and the usual suspects are included: Dominoes/YouTube, United Airlines/guitars, and Air Force One/NYC flyover among them.
There’s one incident this year that has intrigued me but is somehow overlooked: the Eggo waffle shortage, which has affected millions of frozen breakfast fans around the nation, including my kids. Every time I come back home from the store I get grilled about them: “Did you find the mini-waffles—did ya? did ya?” I then have to explain for the twentieth time that a big flood knocked out an Eggo plant in Atlanta, and now they can’t make as many waffles. What I don’t say is that the plant was closed due to a bacteria problem just before the flood situation and was being cleaned up. Kellogg, which owns Eggo, never really owned up to the bacteria part of the story, insisting that the flooding was responsible for the closure, even though the contamination was confirmed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
When the story broke it drew lots of attention online, as Eggo fans wondered how they would cope with the shortage. But there wasn’t much talk of Kellogg sweeping the bacteria under the rug (so to speak). We all know how damaging food contamination stories can be to a brand, but in this case, I believe Kellogg and Eggo got a pass. By the way, this weekend I’m making my favorite breakfast: fresh waffles. The kids can have cereal.
What is your pick for PR Blunder (or pass) of the Year?