Chobani gets crash course in crisis management

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Chobani’s worst case scenario literally exploded earlier this month after the company voluntarily recalled some of its Greek yogurt products on reports of containers bulging and bursting. At least 223 people have reported illnesses related to the mold tainted product as of Sept. 17, though food experts question whether the mold at the center of the recall is the culprit.  

Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s chief of marketing and branding, points to Chobani’s crisis response as a reflection of the company’s messaging, rooted in being approached, accessible and conversation, according to DigiDay.com.

“Look, if people aren’t happy, you have to be accessible and approachable and conversational and treat them like humans,” McGuinness said. “If you’re not happy, let us know. We care you care enough to tell us you’re not happy with us. We take it personally. We’ll communicate with you in an approachable, accessible, conversational kind of way as a friend, as a fan, as a human, not as a big company. That’s what we tried to do.”

Chobani attempted to continue this message through a personal message from CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya.

"While this type of mold is common in the dairy environment, particularly when using only natural ingredients that are absent of artificial preservatives, it's still unacceptable to me and all of our yogurt makers," Ulukaya said in a letter to customers.

“I'm sorry we let you down,” he added.

Though the company is making attempts to reconnect with consumers and reiterate their brand’s messaging, Chobani decided against using social media as customer service tools and continues to remain silent on  both Twitter and Facebook. Instead, consumers are directed to Chobani’s blog for live updates.  

“To my mind, keeping quiet until the problem is solved suggests the brand is trying to show they’re making this issue their top priority,” said Thomas Siebert, vice president of communications at Digitaria, a JWT company. “I’m sure they will have their critics about responding too late to the spoilage, but I think they’re showing the proper amount of gravitas and focus on the social media outlets.”

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