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Tesco "Horse Meat" Scandal

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Lauren Hall

on 19 November 2014

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Transcript of Tesco "Horse Meat" Scandal

The Tesco Horse Meat Scandal
Strategy 1:

The Issue:

"Tesco and the Horse Meat Scandal"

All processed beef products were ordered to be tested for authenticity after it was revealed that Findus found up to 100% horse meat in 11 out of 18 beef lasagnes tested in Tesco products.

Research Questions.
Question One:

What were the crisis management strategies used by Tesco following the scandal?
15th January
Tim Smith, Group Technical Director releases comments on Tesco’s FSAI beef survey.
At 10pm the UK national press reports on the finding of horsemeat in Tesco’s beef products.

16th January
News of the scandal erupts across worldwide media.
At 6pm Tesco’s CEO Philip Clarke posts a social media blog about trust.
At 7:33pm Tesco gives their first formal apology statement.

17th January
Tesco takes out a full page Ad in the UK National Newspaper as their second form of apology concerning selling horsemeat as beef.
@UKTesco sends an apologetic tweet, creating a social media buzz worldwide.

30th January
Tesco organizes an investigation into the horsemeat findings and posts this decision on each of their social media websites.

6th February
Tesco withdraws all frozen beef produce after their internal investigation finds the claims to be true.

Timeline of Events.
Question Two:

What were the attitudes that the media represented in response to Tesco's crisis strategies?
Strategy 2:
Shifting the Blame
Strategy 3:
Corrective action & Bolstering.
We conducted a thematic content analysis of articles from 20 local news publications.
This is a comparative table of the crisis communication strategies used by Tesco, as represented through local media coverage.
Not all articles displayed the use of only one crisis communication strategy.

Attitudes to Tesco's Crisis Communication.

We conducted thematic content analysis to gauge attitudinal responses to Tesco's strategies.
25 articles from local UK publications were reviewed.
Articles were selected from the date of the scandal breaking, in January 2013 to early 2014.
The Crisis Communication Strategies Employed by Tesco.
Independent (11th February 2013)
-"I very much hope that these legal processes do flush out the criminals..."

Independent (27th February 2013)
-"Tesco says 'horse meat burgers' did not come from list of approved suppliers as it introduces DNA testing on all meat products"

Daily Mail (4th September 2013)
-"Tesco has been accused of trying to fool customers over the horsemeat burger scandal by attempting to spread the blame to others"

The Grocer (21st December 2013)
-"Tesco wins CorpComms award for horsemeat scandal response"

BBC (14th January 2013)
-"70% of respondents" to the "Ipsos Mori poll" said they "felt the same" about the retailer despite the horsemeat scandal."
The Analyzed Publications
Tesco's crisis communication strategy was overwhelmingly successful in almost all areas.
Their fast apology, the extent of their public openness about the case and their quick action helped to rectify a situation that could have gone much further awry.
A Google search of the topic ‘Tesco Horse’ reveals that the lifespan of the scandal died down significantly after only a month of prevalence in the media.
The success of their strategy is not only reflected in the short lifespan of the issue within the press, and the general lack of a drop in sales but also by the crisis communication award they were handed by CorpComms magazine.
Results and Conclusions.
Although apologetic, Tesco's decision to shift the blame primarily to their beef suppliers caused some preventable backlash.
Ideally, Tesco should have accepted responsibility, not for the horse meat, but for the fact that they lacked procedures to test their produce regularly.
By accepting fault in this area they are not implicating themselves entirely, but are highlighting an area in which they can improve.
This creates an opportunity for Tesco to not only maintain a positive reputation, but build upon it by successfully implementing new, market leading food testing procedures.
Full transcript