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MINI says sorry and gains online praise, but Findus doesn’t react well after horse meat revelation

14th February 2013

Good PR of the Week

MINI's major gesture

This example is barely related to the brand, but still a nice example of turning a negative into a positive.

A man on MINI’s mailing list complained of being emailed ‘hundreds of times’ and instead of apologising the traditional way and making their excuses, the car manufacturer sent him the following:


His son posted the care package on Reddit, which, to apologise for the spam, contained actual Spam!

The letter, as you can see above, was perfectly measured and has been shared thousands of times. It’s actually a couple of weeks old now, but having only seen it this week courtesy of Inderdeep Gill’s post here, I thought it’d demonstrate that personalised responses, especially when creative, work really well. More than a million people have clicked through to see the album of images, a stat that scrapes the surface of the number of people who’ve since seen MINI’s response.

Here’s some of the apology:

“Nothing says ‘I’m sorry’ quite like flowers and chocolate, so we’ve combined the two and enclosed a chocolate rose. But if you’re allergic to flowers (or chocolate), we hope this duct tape will help fix things up. Or, if you’re ever feeling annoyed again, you can de-stress using this particularly squeezable can of spam.”

Bad PR of the week

Findus tries silent tactics

The horse meat scandal trotted into another week with the announcement that Findus’ frozen lasagnes contained "up to 100 per cent" horse meat.

The company withdrew its beef lasagnes from retailers last week as a precautionary measure, after the FSA revealed that of 18 lasagnes Findus tested, 11 contained between 60 -100 per cent horse meat.

Interestingly, a Sky News interview with Lyndon Lea, a partner at private equity firm Lion Capital, sheds light on the company’s PR tactics around the subject, given many journalists have accused it of being invisible.

Lea  former owner of Wagamama and Weetabix said that he’d contacted Findus as a shareholder "within hours [of finding out]”. He said he’d emailed the chairman stating that Findus needed to “step forward and accept responsibility, apologise to the consumer, restore trust in the brand and be very visible in managing this crisis”. He revealed that Findus had actually been told by PR agency Burson-Marsteller that the issue was “an industry problem and not a Findus issue”. Lea believes criminal activity is behind the scandal.

This advice, and of course, the actual issue itself, have inevitably contributed to what is probably the worst week in Findus’ history. They won’t be the last company associated with horse meat, but its public reaction has been particularly muted and ridiculed as a result.

Have you seen any good or bad PR?

Contact PR Rich Leigh with it by tweeting him @GoodandBadPR or by emailing throughout the week and we’ll happily credit you for your trouble.

Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of 10 Yetis PR Agency

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