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Journal cover: Corporate Communications: An International Journal

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Online from: 1996

Subject Area: Marketing

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When an icon stumbles: the Ribena issue mismanaged


Document Information:
Title:When an icon stumbles: the Ribena issue mismanaged
Author(s):Tony Jaques, (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Citation:Tony Jaques, (2008) "When an icon stumbles: the Ribena issue mismanaged", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 13 Iss: 4, pp.394 - 406
Keywords:Advertising, Brand image, Complaints, Corporate image, Corporate strategy
Article type:Case study
DOI:10.1108/13563280810914829 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Abstract:

Purpose – When two 14-year-old New Zealand schoolgirls challenged the advertising claims of Ribena blackcurrant drink – owned by global giant GlaxoSmithKline – they triggered a sequence of events which led to prosecution, public opprobrium and international damage to an iconic brand. The purpose of this paper is to explore the case and identify lessons for future management practice.

Design/methodology/approach – Some of the fundamental principles of issue management, post-crisis discourse and corporate apologia are to recognize the problem early, to promptly institute a strategic response plan and corrective action and, if necessary, to apologise genuinely and without delay. The paper assesses the case against the theoretical basis of each of these principles and comparable cases. A senior executive of the company concerned was interviewed about some management aspects.

Findings – Despite early indications of a problem which had potential impact around the world, a major global corporation responded inadequately to a local situation and, as a result, suffered prolonged embarrassment at the hands of two teenagers and unnecessarily severe damage to its brand and international reputation.

Originality/value – By in-depth analysis of a recent case, the paper underlines valuable lessons in terms of prompt management intervention, consistent strategy and effective apologia. It also illustrates the danger of poor management of a brand extension and the risk of contagion facing multinational organizations where adverse outcomes in one small regional market can rapidly damage a global reputation.



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