The New ‘Whistleblower’ Diet

22 05 2007

I have just watched a truly horrific programme on BBC1, which has meant that I am bound to lose a shed of weight as I NEVER want to eat again… Whistleblower was an undercover investigation into fresh food that is sold in supermarkets (Tesco and Sainsburys specifically) past its sell-by date.


I feel totally sickened by some of the scenes from the programme and I am quite sure that I won’t be visiting either supermarket (especially not to buy fresh food) any time in the foreseeable future.

So, this has made me wonder if this kind of negative reporting – and in PR terms, ‘crisis’ – will either a) do nothing at all to the multi-billion pound superstores or b) will have an effect that could actually damage their businesses..?

Ratner’s crisis that buried the company was far less severe than this. And many, many businesses have gone to the wall for far smaller indiscretions. But, I have a feeling that Tesco and Sainsburys are going to be OK as they seem to be so big and powerful that they are beyond the standard rules of PR…

The fact that both companies refused to be interviewed for the programme and chose instead to issue ‘statements‘ (I couldn’t find one on the Tesco website) should be met with outrage by customers, the authorities, politicians, industry bodies and influencers alike. Something tells me, though, that the next news story about Tesco’s record profits (something like £1 in every £8 in this country is spent at Tesco…) is not too far away…




2 responses

23 05 2007

I like your point about whether Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s are too big for negative PR.

Consumers need to be educated about issues, but without hearing/seeing/reading about it several times, it doesn’t really sink in. Even if everyone that saw the programme you mention decided never to visit Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s again, there are still millions that will continue to do so – oblivious to what they are buying.

The issue, I think, is that for communications to be effective against the big players in any industry, it needs to be consistent – like a steady drum beat.

Maybe with the mass of new media out there, it the channels are now available for someone educate people and have enough influence to bring down these giants (if that is your purpose), or to just ensure they change their ways.

23 05 2007

I don’t want to “bring them down” – I just want them to behave according to the rules and firmly believe that being a ‘giant’ should bring additional responsibilities and not the ability to abuse the system. I hope last night’s dispatches forces them to make big changes but I doubt they will…

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