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The big brand comeback


What goes into resurrecting a brand after a major blunder? Here’s how global brands made their comeback from massive disasters in public.

June 27, 2012 1:00 by

Blackouts, scandals and pesticides – these brands have seen it all and lived to tell the tale. What saved them? Was it clever PR, a makeover, a profuse apology or just good karma?

“Waiter, there’s a toxic pesticide in my Cola”
Coca Cola pesticide controversy ban in India
For once, the two cola giants, Pepsi and Coca Cola, found themselves on the same side of the war. The controversy in 2006 (India) over traces of pesticide found in the two cola brands’ carbonated beverages, shocked the country and led to a nationwide ban.

The $2 billion market that both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo dominate in India, with a combined share of roughly 80%-plus, was immediately impacted. Interestingly, though, the two brands dealt the blow differently.

Pepsi and Coca Cola launched a PR counterattack on the research firm that tested the carbonated drinks. While this was, admittedly, a knee jerk reaction, Coca-Cola also posted background information on its testing and quality procedures at labs in Hyderabad, California, and London on the web site of its Indian subsidiary. It even offered to take Indian customers on guided tours of its processing plants as a goodwill measure.

PepsiCo, on its part, noted in its printed ads, that pesticide levels in Indian teas and coffees are far higher, stating that some levels of pesticides are common in many foods, given the heavy reliance on chemicals in raising crops in India and other countries.

Over time, Coca cola also addressed this issue in their popular TVCs to convey that tests in laboratories across the world have shown that the beverage is safe to drink.

Cadbury’s can of worms:

cadbury milk-chocolate worm controversy in india
When Cadbury India came under fire for worms found in their chocolate products, they took a different approach. The fact that consumers found live worms and the claim was backed by tests in the government labs, the company had a slim chance of saving face.

So Cadbury faced the issue head on, acknowledged its mistake and overhauled its packaging procedures to calm consumer fears. It also went a step ahead and recruited one of the most well known and respected Bollywood actors to lend his credibility to the fallen brand. Through the new brand ambassador, Cadbury apologized profusely to its consumers, stressing that it will never happen again.

The messages on TV, print and other media touched a chord with the public for its honest admission and humble apology, addressed to each and every consumer.

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