Topics: brand reputation
This post is part two of a two-part blog series examining communication strategy through the lens of Chipotle's recent food safety crisis. Click here for part one.
In the past, Chipotle Mexican Grill has been a shining example of brand authenticity. Founded in 1993 (and having released a mission statement called “Food With Integrity”), Chipotle committed to providing quality and ethically sourced foods, and it amassed a cult-like following.
However, the recent E. coli outbreaks have shown that no company is immune to a public relations crisis or shifts in customer loyalty. As we often remind our clients, in a single day, you can go from being a darling of the media to being in the middle of a crisis.
I remember the worst event I ever attended like it was yesterday.
It all came down to one simple mistake: The organizers had an attendant with a clipboard stand by the bar. As the bartender poured, the man tallied — he was counting the drinks! What started out as a (very) transparent attempt to ensure a good ROI turned into a full-blown catastrophe in a matter of minutes. Guests were mortified, believing that the clipboard-wielding gentleman was there to keep track of their drinking habits. A lavish event bombed, all because someone wanted to know how busy the taps were.
When New York City was in the thick of its bedbug crisis in 2010, I’ll admit I avoided the city at all costs. I tried to dodge business trips there and certainly didn’t plan any vacations to the Big Apple. Why would I want to willingly subject myself to a high risk of contracting itchy, annoying little mites that someone else left behind?