Loblaws has a public relations problem

Media Relations 101.
Tell the truth.
If you made a mistake, apologize.
And for God's sake, stop lying.

This morning, even the television anchors were having trouble keeping straight faces over the nose-stretchers being told by upper management at Loblaws.

The company's flack was trying to put a tourniquet on the company's worst public relations bleed in recent memory. It was all over a memo that was circulating which said that company decided to stop stocking French's Ketchup because it was "cannibalizing" sales of the company's house brand.

"The memo was unofficial, misinformed and sent by a staff member prior to (Tuesday's) decision to restock French's ketchup," Kevin Groh, vice-president of corporate affairs and communication, said Wednesday in a statement.

I assume that staffer is now stocking overnight shelves.

Doesn't matter. The damage is done. Who you gonna believe, the flak, or the actual employee who wrote the memo not realizing it would end up on the front page of the business section of the Globe and Mail?


The whole thing just reinforced the fact that Loblaws' upper management looks stupid, inept and uncaring. Remember, these are the same folks who busted Loblaws' union a while back and my favorite cashier, who had worked for Loblaws for two decades, went from earning $17 a hour to minimum wage with no job security just to keep her lousy McJob.

The Westons really don't care about the people who work there, or for the good people of Leamington who are growing the tomatoes and making the ketchup that Loblaws tried to get rid of.

Meantime, the suits at the grocery chain did find out a "fun" fact about the people who shop there. They do care about farmers and factory workers and Canadian families who make an honest living making and growing things.

The good news is that Loblaws has an opportunity to make things right.

Loblaws could start a new campaign to promote products made in Canada. The company already does this with its meat. On the packages of pork are pictures of the people who grow them. And its commercials often feature the mugs of Canadian growers of fruits and veg.

Why not do the same with other products, like ketchup? Every week, Loblaws could feature the made-in-Canada products in one aisle.

Oh, wait. That might mean that a brand name product would sell more than a no name product.

Dilemma. Dilemma.

Do what's right or continue to be greedy?

It's a real toss up.

By way, I'd love someone to show me a website that reveals where President's Choice and No Name products are actually manufactured. McDonald's is currently running a successful campaign that shows people what's going on behind the scenes. Loblaws should do the same. At the very least, Loblaws should provide consumers with a website where they can find made-in-Canada products.

Transparency. What a concept!

It might, just might, make people trust the company again.


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