jump to navigation

Rogue employee at Pizza Hut creates plenty of bad press February 21, 2014

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

A regional manager of several West Virginia Pizza Hut franchises created some pretty bad press for his company recently, after being spotted in a surveillance video urinating in a sink in the food prep area. The video leaked in February and went viral quickly. The employee was seen using a computer before stepping up to the sink behind him and relieving himself. He turned on the faucet briefly, presumably to “flush.” It took little time for the manager to be fired, and Pizza Hut released the following statement:

“Pizza Hut has zero tolerance for violations of our operating standards, and the local owner of the restaurant took immediate action and terminated the employee involved. While the isolated incident occurred during non-business hours and did not involve any food tampering, we follow strict safety and handling procedures and the restaurant has since been closed. We apologize to our customers of Kermit, West Virginia and those in our system who have been let down by this situation.”

Rogue employees like the manager in this incident aren’t all that unusual, and they pose serious dangers for big business. A Burger King employee from Cleveland created similar news stories in 2012 after posting photos of himself standing in buckets of lettuce.  Another Burger King employee was caught bathing in his restaurant’s sink in 2008. Domino’s Pizza was also caught in an embarrassing episode in 2009, after a few employees at one franchise posted video of themselves putting cheese in their nose and rubbing sandwiches on their private parts.

For more on the latest episode involving Pizza Hut, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Are companies to blame for the actions of their rogue employees?

2.  Was Pizza Hut’s response to the latest story of a rogue employee sufficient in repairing its image? Why, or why not?

3.  How has the internet era (especially after the development of social media and modern mobile technology) exacerbated the problem of rogue employees?

Advertisements

Rogue employees, smartphones, post big threat to big business July 13, 2013

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

You have probably heard the story about the Burger King employee who posted a video to the internet showing him bathing in a restaurant sink. Or the story about Domino’s employees who posted videos of themselves blowing their noses and spitting into food. These stories have harmed reputations of fast food chains across America. These stories have proved the dangers of a few employees with smartphones.

Sometimes these rogue employees have good intentions, though, even if their actions can be just as destructive. This week is a perfect example. In one recent story, an employee at a Golden Corral in Florida posted video of raw hamburger patties, baby back ribs, pot roast, chicken, and other meat products stacked outside next to a dumpster. According to the employee, the manager placed the food outside to hide it from health inspectors. It was later moved inside and supposedly served to patrons. That video was viewed hundreds of thousands of times online. Another video receiving thousands of hits this week came from a Denny’s restaurant in Washington state. That video showed layers of food coating spaces under kitchen appliances, in addition to dirty dishes and disgusting surfaces throughout the restaurant. The Denny’s was quickly closed for a deep cleaning.

For more on both of the stories this week created by two rogue employees armed with smartphones, see the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How do stories like those above impact the reputations of major businesses?

2.  How should businesses respond to videos taken by rogue employees?

3.  Are the rogue employees discussed above – in the context of Denny’s and Golden Corral – heroes?

Chick-Fil-A immersed in image crisis after COO expresses position on homosexuality July 28, 2012

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

Chick-Fil-A is in the middle of a major PR crisis after its President and COO Dan Cathy stated what everyone had long guessed – his company doesn’t like homosexuality. Cathy recently told a Baptist publication: “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.” This led many to call for boycotts of Chick-Fil-A. Explaining the frustration some have with the restaurant chain, Mark Pettit wrote on The Huffington Post that Chick-Fil-A depends on the public to sustain profits but is alienating a large cross-section of America. As Pettit suggested, Cathy’s comments are now a crisis because “Facebook and Twitter are afire with gay, and gay friendly people, publicly boycotting Chick-fil-A and asking their friends and followers to do the same. In today’s hyper-connected and hyper-sensitive environment, one person quickly turns into one thousand and a comment to a religion reporter becomes fuel to fire the 24-hour mainstream.” Pettit eloquently concluded, “Companies and great brands need to realize that at some point, they become bigger than the CEO. Vision must be separated from views — because it’s all about the voice. What people say and believe is the only thing that matters.”

Chick-Fil-A is not without supporters, though. Social conservatives like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have called on conservatives across the country to flock to the restaurant to stand against “bullies” of Christian beliefs. Huckabee went as far to call for a “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.”

For more on the crisis that Chick-Fil-A now faces, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Should CEOs and corporate leaders be free to share their opinions on major political issues? Why, or why not?

2.  Was Cathy’s statement offensive? Why, or why not?

3.  Will Chick-Fil-A be hurt by this current crisis? Why, or why not?

Arby’s put on defensive after finger found in boy’s food June 2, 2012

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

A Michigan teen in May 2012 had the horrible experience that nobody would ever want. While munching on his roast beef sandwich, he found a particular piece especially chewy. Upon spitting up his bite, he discovered an inch long piece of a finger. Health inspectors confirmed the story, after learning that an employee had cut her finger earlier in the week, but hadn’t told anyone. The restaurant was immediately closed for cleaning.

Since the incident, Arby’s has been on the defensive my expressing its apologies to the boy. Moreover, an Arby’s spokesperson stated that they had been “in touch with its nationwide network of restaurants to reinforce training and safety protocols for our 66,000 employees.” However, many crisis communication analysts are claiming that the fast food may not be doing enough to control the story.

For more on the incident, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How might the single incident in Michigan hurt the reputation of Arby’s? What was especially controversial about the incident?

2.  How should companies respond to similar incidents?

3.  Will Arby’s be harmed by the incident in Michigan? Why, or why not?

Domino’s continues chain of ads based on product-improvement, responsibility March 19, 2011

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

Since the beginning of 2010, when Domino’s reinvented itself and unveiled its new pizza, the company has been running a series of ads acknowledging its past failures and accepting the responsibility of improving its products. The strategy was considered risky at first, but marketers realized that Domino’s was able to turn heads by staying away from the same “new and improve” language and embracing instead, “We failed.” Targeting consumers who had bad experiences with Domino’s, as well as those who never had an excuse to try its pizza, the advertisements have been an amazing success. The company’s domestic same-store sales grew 9.9 percent in 2010, and its international sales grew 6.9 percent.

To see the original advertisement, and a newer version, watch the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Is Domino’s newest series of ads claiming responsibility especially persuasive in a time of economic strife? If so, then why?

2.  Have other companies used a similar strategy in the past?

3.  Which other fast food companies could benefit from an image makeover similar to that of Domino’s? Could the same strategy work as well for Taco Bell following accusations that its beef is of lower quality? Why, or why not?

Taco Bell scrambles to respond to beef controversy February 5, 2011

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Taco Bell launched a major PR campaign at the end of January 2011 to address accusations that its beef products contained only 35% meat. The allegation originated with a class action lawsuit filed against the fast food giant. That story became big news, and forced Taco Bell to take the defensive position. While many PR experts were skeptical that the story would do serious damage to the chain’s profits, others suggested that a forceful response was needed to kill the rumor.

The restaurant chain’s response was honest. Like most kinds of fast-food, Taco Bell suggested, their beef contained some additives to enhance flavor. The company stated that its beef was 88% meat with the remaining 12% being spices, oats, and other ingredients. However, some critics are now pointing out that Taco Bell’s response was poorly executed. As Andrew Gunther wrote on The Huffington Post:

It’s breathtaking but true. Taco Bell admits that its meat is bland — defined as lacking taste, lacking flavor and being insipid. We might speculate as to whether this meat is trim or recovered meat but it’s almost beside the point. Taco Bell is a company that sells us food. It markets its products as tasty. Taco Bell has nutrition calculators and the Taco Bell “drive thru diet” website to help plan our intake. But in this one statement the company has admitted that it uses ingredients that lack key requirements that we all know are crucial in preparing healthy, nutritious, and enjoyable food.

For more on this story, see the following segment from CBS News:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why did the accusations against Taco Bell have legs? In other words, why were so many people amused about the story?

2.  Was Taco Bell’s response effective? Why, or why not?

3.  Assuming that Andrew Gunther was right, what might have been a better way for Taco Bell to respond?