• Document: Crisis management in Belgium: the case of Coca-Cola
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Introduction Crisis management in First it was mad cow disease, then it was Belgium: the case of tainted animal feed. As Belgians were reeling Coca-Cola from the crisis over cancer-causing dioxin in animal feed leading to the withdrawal of certain meats, eggs and dairy products from Victoria Johnson and supermarkets, yet another health crisis rocked Spero C. Peppas the nation. The effects were to be felt throughout Europe with rumblings heard as The authors far away as Japan and India. This time it was a Victoria Johnson is Professor of Management and soft drink that was the cause for concern. On Spero C. Peppas is Professor of International Business, 14 June 1999, in a move that was to cost more both at Stetson School of Business and Economics, Mercer than $200 million in expense and lost profits University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. and cause damage to the brand image of the trade-marked products of The Coca-Cola Keywords Company (CCC), the Belgian Health Crisis management, International business, Leadership, Ministry ordered that Coca-Cola trade- Management, Marketing, Case studies marked products be withdrawn from the Belgian market and warned Belgians not to Abstract drink any Coca-Cola trade-marked products they had in their homes. Later, France, Belgium was still reeling from fears over mad cow disease Luxembourg and The Netherlands also and from the news that the carcinogen, dioxin, had been banned or restricted the sale of Coca-Cola introduced inadvertently into animal feed, when yet another health crisis rocked it. This new crisis was products. precipitated by consumer complaints about an irregular taste and smell in bottled soft drinks and by reports that more than 100 consumers had become ill after noticing an The production and distribution of odour on the outside of canned soft drinks. As a result, Coca-Cola The Coca-Cola Company, under instructions from the Belgian Health Ministry, withdrew its trade-marked The CCC, with headquarters in Atlanta, products from the Belgian market. The effects of this crisis Georgia, USA, is the world’s leading were felt not only within Europe, but also in countries as producer of soft drink concentrates and far away as Japan and India. Subsequently, the company syrups, providing consumers with one of the identified specific production and distribution problems world’s most popular soft drinks. CCC and its which could have contributed to the health crisis. Pursuant to the Ministry’s order, the company took subsidiaries manufacture, market and immediate steps to remedy those problems, and the distribute syrups, concentrates and beverage Ministry’s ban was lifted. In addition, an aggressive bases for the Coca-Cola brand and over 230 marketing campaign was launched in an effort to regain other brands bearing CCC trade marks that consumer trust, confidence, and market share. are sold world-wide. In addition, CCC Nevertheless, this incident resulted in substantial financial provides advertising and other promotional costs to The Coca-Cola Company and in considerable support for these brands. Coca-Cola damage to its global image and reputation. Enterprises (CCE), the world’s largest producer and distributor of products bearing Electronic access CCC trade marks, as well as other bottlers, The Emerald Research Register for this journal is buy CCC’s syrups an

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