Brand Damage Limitation: In a product recall crisis


Preparation = Protection

Being prepared for a recall gives you the best chance at protecting your brand. Acting fast when a recall hits can make the difference between sink or swim. Product recalls can cause serious brand damage and even lead to the closing of companies.

With millions of products today being manufactured and marketed across hundreds of countries, it is inevitable that not all products will meet the various standards and legislations within each country. Therefore leading to some products being recalled from the market. 


Communicate internally and externally

Handling communication with stakeholders throughout the recall process is paramount to ensure that customers are kept fully up to date with all information. Being transparent and ensuring that the customers feel ‘in the know’ about all aspects of the process limits the negative effects of customer dissatisfaction.

It is imperative to have a communication plan setup in case a product recall is called for. That way, your stakeholders can be notified with any information as soon as possible without having the added stress of planning this at the time when lots of other aspects will be in place.  


Social Media spreads like wildfire

Social media is so prevalent nowadays and negative comments and other posts can go viral within minutes. Take the recent Samsung recall, within minutes the world is talking about you and posts are being shared across the globe. This in turn then blows up a situation and has detrimental effects to the brand. In total the recall is said to have cost Samsung billions of dollars and hurt the brand significantly going forward.

When there is a problem, reacting quickly can turn what might have been a brand disaster into a success, while minimising losses.  It is so important to react as soon as there is any information about a products safety.


When things go wrong

For example in 2009 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the Westco Fruit & Nut Company to perform a voluntary peanut recall and Westco refused. The FDA then went on to obtain a warrant and issued a Class I recall, allowing access to the company’s records, and in particular to trace suppliers shipping salmonella-contaminated peanuts all over the world. By the time the recall was completed, 691 infections were confirmed across 46 states and this was linked to 9 deaths.  The recall cost the US peanut industry $1 Billion, Westco filed for bankruptcy and the CEO was summoned to court.


Choosing a Recall Partner ahead of time

Do not wait until the highly stressful and critical situation of a recall to appoint a recall partner. This company will be your voice, contacting your customers and offering solutions. Your recall partner must be familiar with your contact strategy and work closely with you to make a recall situation as painless as possible.

When appointing your recall partner, consider these points:

  • What is the global reach of the recall agency? Can they cover multiple jurisdictions?
  •  How quickly can a recall kick into action? If already appointed, your partner will already understand your organisation, so all you need to do is update them on the situation, brief them on its severity and the solutions you want to give customers. If you don’t have a partner, you’ll need to go through all of this before they can act safely.
  • Can your recall agency monitor social media sites and provide your marketing and PR people sentiment analysis reports to help them minimise brand damage?
  • How efficient and diligent is your partner? What reports can they provide for legal, insurance, finance departments? Can they help validate a recall’s effectiveness? Appointing a recall agency should be done when you have a clear head, not in the height of the crisis.

With the ever increasing consumer protection legislation, being prepared for a product recall should be part of your company strategy and communicated to all stakeholders. Your aim is to protect consumers from harm and to protect your brand, while limiting the financial damage of a recall.


Start Now!

Check your recall policies and procedures are up to date with START. We work with you to have absolutely everything ready to go, from people all the way through to IT and telephony systems and processes. If a recall becomes a possibility, your START Team puts you 100% in the driving seat.