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Cadbury is consistently the most trusted brand of chocolate in the UK. In 2006, Cadbury recalled eight of its products (over 1 million items) for salmonella contamination that caused sickness in about 40 people. This is proof that crises happen even to the best of companies. Cadbury estimates the recall cost it £20 million and resulted in a 14 per cent drop in sales for 2006 (Walsh 2011). A BrandIndex poll taken after the recall showed a sharp drop in Cadbury’s reputation (Salmonellablog 2006). The lost revenue, lost sales and reputation damage reflect the negative effects a crisis can have on an organisation. The British Government determined that Cadbury’s standards for assessing the risk of salmonella was unreliable and needed to be changed (Booth 2006). Cadbury was not properly executing part of its food safety tasks. The crisis was caused by poor job performance making this, at best, a human-error product harm crisis. Cadbury’s management admitted (pleaded guilty) to breaching food and hygiene regulations. Cadbury was fined one million pounds for its violations (Reuters 2007). The crisis could be considered management misconduct because there was violation of regulations. Either categorisation places the Cadbury chocolate recall in the ‘preventable crisis’ cluster. Cadbury did recall the product and informed customers about the recall (instructing information). Here is a sample of Cadbury’s statement following its government fine: ‘Quality has always been at the heart of our business, but the process we followed in the UK in this instance has been shown to be unacceptable. We have apologised for this and do so again today. In particular, we offer our sincere regrets and apologies to anyone who was made ill as a result of this failure. We have spent over £20 million in changing our procedures to prevent this ever happening again’ (Reuters 2007). The crisis response notes the corrective action taken and offers regret (adjusting information). More importantly, Cadbury’s apology indicates that it accepts responsibility for the crisis. The response fits nicely with recommendations for a ‘preventable’ cluster crisis. Instructing and adjusting information were provided coupled with an apology (acceptance of responsibility). In 2007, Cadbury was again named the most trusted chocolate brand in Britain. Marketing analysis argued the poll results showed Cadbury had rebounded from the salmonella crisis (Rano 2008). We can argue that the crisis communication utilised by Cadbury is part of the reason its reputation was able to rebound so quickly from the crisis.
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