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Why Whirlpool is forgetting the value of its reputation

I recently spoke to Francis Ingham CEO of The PRCA to talk about the Whirlpool / Hotpoint tumble dryer crisis. 

“What is staggering is the reputational harm that this product is going to sustain if you have this fear of death living in your home”
Francis Ingham, PRCA Director General & ICCO Chief Executive

For those of you unfamiliar with the story here is some background. Whirlpool/ Hotpoint manufacture tumble dryers and apparently there are approximately 5.3 million that have been sold that are potentially faulty and liable to burst into flames. Tumble dryers affected include Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda models bought between April 2004 and October 2015.

So it's a huge problem but the reality is that there have been a number of fires caused by these faulty machines and allegedly 2 deaths, in North Wales in 2014.

“The company is appearing to put money and profit ahead of people's lives…because of the poor, money centric response, not a reputational focus that they need to have”
Francis Ingham, PRCA Director General & ICCO Chief Executive

Francis and I discuss the following:

  1. Why it is a surprise that in 2017 an international brand like Hotpoint isn't able to put together a more effective response to this product recall crisis.
  2. The reputational and ethical issues questions that Hotpoint should be considering.
  3. As the ethical compass for the board what is the role that PR and Comms professionals should play in this situation?
  4. Given that Hotpoint have made such poor progress in this product recall, and the communication of it, is it only a matter of time before the government steps in?

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