An increase in public attention on BPA, a key (and controversial) chemical used in soup can linings, was a cause for concern at the Campbell Soup Company, one of the world’s leading producers of canned foods.
- Consumers took to social media to raise concerns about BPA
- Advocacy groups were joining the conversation
- FDA rulings—ranging from “recommend limited intake” to “ban in products intended for children” to a “full ban on all products using the chemical”—were rumored as possibilities
- Anti-BPA legislation was a possibility in California
- Shareholder concerns that the decline in soup sales were a result of the anti-BPA movement
Campbell’s needed to understand what impact BPA was having on its business, if they needed to address the issue, and if so, what they needed to say and how to say it.
BSG conducted a comprehensive issue assessment and messaging study to prepare Campbell’s for a variety of potential scenarios. In addition, BSG armed Campbell’s with an effective communication strategy and messaging plan.
The BSG issues and crisis management team:
- Assessed the Situation. BSG measured current awareness of BPA—both in general and specifically in Campbell’s soup cans—and the level of concern to Campbell’s business.
- Studied Brand Risks & Scenarios. In addition, BSG identified potential threats to Campbell’s business and reputation stemming from possible FDA rulings.
- Devised a Communication Strategy. BSG conducted multi-cell tests to assess various communication strategies (i.e. inoculate vs. ignore vs. wait and respond). This revealed the most appropriate message for each potential scenario and strategy.
- Based on the research, BSG advised Campbell’s that it needed to respond to the issue and could not ignore the matter.
- Message testing revealed that embracing the science and acknowledging how people felt mitigated concerns and helped reinforce the company’s “customers first” reputation.
- Campbell’s announcement at its investor meeting that it was working on alternatives received positive feedback from stakeholders and the media.