Pink slime oozes way to PR Disaster of Year

The 2012 Force for Good PR Disaster of the Year goes to “lean finely textured beef.”

Huh? Never heard of it? Perhaps this meat product’s nickname rings a bell: “Pink slime.”

You know you have a crisis on your hands when you’ve so lost control of the very identity of your product that it has become infamous under a grotesquely graphic descriptive term served up by opposition groups.

Lessons learned begin with giving your brand a credible name. While a product or brand name should have positive connotations, if it’s too big a stretch from an unbiased description, it will beg to be forever known by a less-flattering nickname. (That’s how “Obamacare” became the defacto name for “The Affordable Health Care Act.”)

Of course, it doesn’t help when your product has a hideous appreance.

The clincher came when ABC News in March ran an investigative series reporting that the “cheap meat filler pink slime” treated with ammonia was used in more than 70% of the ground beef sold in the U.S. Public disgust and outrage led to supermarket chains and restaurants dropping meats with the filler, all but killing human demand for the meat product.

Manufacturers of “lean finely textured beef” tried to make the case that there was nothing wrong with the meat product, but their voices were hard to hear above the clamor condemning pink slime.

A $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit filed against ABC News by Beef Products, Inc. accuses the TV network of making “false and misleading” statements that “caused consumers to believe that our lean beef is not beef at all – that it’s an unhealthy pink slime, unsafe for public consumption, and that somehow it got hidden in the meat.” Yep, that’s pretty much exactly what ABC News reported day after day last March.

 

 

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