Bloomberg has published an extensive autopsy on Daily Harvest’s failures to protect and communicate with customers about the health hazards posed by their French Lentil + Leek Crumbles last June. At least 130 were hospitalized, and about 40 had to have their gallbladders removed.
Some customers who ate the product experienced severe gastrointestinal pain, but found themselves forced to connect the dots themselves as Daily Harvest’s social media accounts glossed over or ignored the problem. When they learned that Daily Harvest was the culprit, some eventually received canned responses and an offer of a gift card that paled in comparison to their mounting medical bills.
Usually when a company does a product recall, then that halts distribution and sales, press releases are issued and customers are informed. According to Bloomberg, Daily Harvest just sent out two separate emails to subscribers: Those who ate the crumbles and those who bought them but didn’t consume them yet. Daily Harvest alerted them of the issue, vaguely, but didn’t say there was a recall until about a week into the crisis.
Daily Harvest’s CEO Rachel Drori said that “a recall is telling somebody not to consume and dispose.”
Why it matters: Drori told Businessweek that Daily Harvest handled the crisis with “transparency, immediacy and customer empathy”, Bloomberg reported.
That’s not the case, according to scores of social media influencers who collaborated with Daily Harvest to promote the brand, and customers who got extremely ill from the product.
Confusing, lagging language didn’t help Daily Harvest at all and the lack of social media response was not empathetic –- if they responded to inuiries at all.
The company failed to create a new Instagram post about the crisis and simply edited their captions of previous posts with pictures of the crumbles, directing people to their bio for a link with more information, per Bloomberg. That meant people who had already seen the post they edited might not have seen the important information.
“Fire your comms team—this isn’t how you inform people one of your products is sending people to the hospital,” an Instagram poster noted, Bloomberg reported.
Drori said that the company was “heads down focused on getting answers” and not concentrated “on our own PR. It was the last thing on our mind.”
PR should be the first thing on a brand’s mind and how they purposefully communicate with audiences, especially in times of crisis. It’s not time to beat around the bush and be evasive with your answers. People’s health was on the line. Communicating with them should have been the first priority.
Editor’s Top Picks:
- Paul Reubens, known for his iconic character Pee-wee Herman, died at 70 from cancer. “Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit,” a statement on his official Facebook page read, which added that “he will forever live in the comedy pantheon and in our hearts.” In a statement alongside the post, Reubens apologized for not going public with his health ailments, which he had faced for the last six years. Reubens’ personal brand will be remembered for his innate ability to be bold and unabashedly peculiar in his craft.
- Have a unique message that your brand wants to get out to your audience but are unsure which format works for you? Try using a celebrity to spread the word on the app, Cameo For Business. Through the app, celebs sell their videos and specific messages to sometimes unsuspecting fans for achievements and special occasions. Consider cool ways to use Cameo for your brand’s next announcement – as long as the celeb is fits with your brand and the message is lighthearted enough for all to enjoy.
- According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans don’t have as much confidence in the U.S. military as they used to. In 1975, amid the Vietnam War, 58% of Americans had a “great deal” or “quite a lot of confidence” in the military. Over the decades, that figure peaked to 85% in 1991 and dropped to 60% in 2023. “Now that the U.S. has completely withdrawn from both Iraq and Afghanistan, the two most significant military legacies of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., confidence in the military has continued to decline among the public,” according to Gallup. The military can’t always be transparent with the public, but when they can divulge, use that to bridge any gaps with audiences and find ways to win back up trust.
Sherri Kolade is a writer at Ragan Communications. When she is not with her family, she enjoys watching Alfred Hitchcock-style films, reading and building an authentically curated life that includes more than occasionally finding something deliciously fried. Follow her on LinkedIn. Have a great PR story idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.