Friday 23 January 2015

Weekly Wrap Up: Hostile takeover of an iconic recipe

When Cadbury was acquired by Kraft Foods a few years ago, many British chocolate lovers immediately feared the worst: the American company would tinker with the recipes of their beloved treats.

Well this month that nightmare became a reality.

It all began with reports that a new batch of Creme Eggs “tasted different”. So in an instance of sound investigative journalism, The Sun newspaper contacted the company, whose name has been changed to Mondelez International since the takeover.

A Mondelez spokesperson confirmed the worst. The Creme Egg recipe has indeed been altered, meaning the iconic Easter egg will no longer be made with Dairy Milk chocolate. The shell will now be made of a standard cocoa mix chocolate.

What unfolded next was nothing short of a PR disaster. Online outrage and calls for a boycott of Creme Eggs and Cadbury were followed by a slew of negative press coverage. One man from Liverpool was so angry he started a petition demanding that Mondolez change the recipe back.

Clearly, there is such a thing as bad publicity. City A.M. pointed out this week that the YouGov Brand Index Buzz score, which indicates if a respondent has heard something very positive or negative about a company, has plummeted since the revelation. The purchase consideration metric, which shows whether a respondent would buy an item, also dropped after the change in recipe was announced.

This whole mishap could easily have been prevented. It seems Mondelez failed to have an adequate PR plan in place. Also, they only confessed that they had meddled with the recipe once confronted by The Sun. There was almost certainly a better way to deliver the bad news. Perhaps Mondelez should have picked up on the anger and resentment that arose when an American company took over this beloved UK brand. If the company had done more to understand that to the British consumer the Creme Egg is iconic, maybe they would have realised they probably shouldn’t ‘Americanise’ the recipe. In that respect, the way to avoid all this bad publicity is actually quite simple: don’t change a recipe that has served the company extremely well for over 50 years. Or, to put it in more American terms: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Zeus Capital announced three appointments: Nick How has arrived from Oriel Securities as corporate finance director; Hugo Chance joins as director and head of family offices having previously headed up the angel investor forum Angels and Equity under Truestone Group; and Claire Frangou joins from Deloitte as business development director. Meanwhile, PwC appointed Naomi Saragoussi, previously of Mercer, to develop its private healthcare and group protection advisory business.

Americanisation: The influence the United States has on other cultures. It’s a term often considered to be synonymous with progress and innovation, although British consumers of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs might disagree

Felt the toll of the worst week of the year (it’s a scientific fact…)? Well try to escape blue Monday with the LOCO London Comedy Film Festival – based at the BFI on the Southbank. With every genre of comedy covered, from Ealing classics to brand new British films, LOCO’s mission is to kickstart the next generation of British comedy film-writers, why not try out the world premiere Lost in Karastan?

If film’s your thing but you fancy something more cerebral, why not try BAFTA, Backstage, the latest photographic exhibition from the BAFTA archive. With an exclusive insight into the backstage workings of Britain’s most impressive film event of the year, see candid shots of such disparate stars as Annette Bening, Brad Pitt, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. As an opportunity to see behind the film industry’s visage, this is not one to be missed.

Or, if you like nothing more than a wander to your local on a weekend, why not try wandering to someone else’s? Random London Walk’s, a tour which plays out by luck and chance more than judgement, have offered a Pub Special for this weekend. With where you go completely put in the hands of fate, you pick a card, and it tells you where you’re going. With a starting point near Covent Garden, this tour is for those who are confident they can get themselves home after a night out, where ever they end up!

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