Tuesday, March 30, 2010

still brainstorming

My recent interest in corporate systems disruptions reminded me of the Wendy's chili incident that happened a few years ago. As I recall, a California woman claimed she bit into a chunk of an index finger while eating her chili at Wendy's. The immediate result was a massive internal investigation which eventually exonerated Wendy's. But think about the rate of return on this accusation. For a few days, it seemed that nobody would eat at Wendy's. I'd be willing to wager that chili sales were viciously impacted.

I found this interesting because I'm a huge fan of Wendy's chili. Even though they bumped it from the dollar menu, it's still a hell of a good deal. Add a couple packets of hot sauce, a few Mezzetta's brand golden pepperoncinis, optional cheese and maybe some bleach-enhanced crackers and you have a pretty decent meal. Low carb and relatively high protein (from a fast food perspective). My point - I eat their chili about once every two weeks, but during the dreaded "finger incident," I avoided Wendy's like the plague. Keep in mind, I only eat their chili and maybe once in a blue moon I'll get some fries or a side salad. So let's just say I felt personally impacted by the finger debacle.

After the incident was proven fallacious, I eventually returned to Wendy's (probably after a couple months or so). But here's my point. If this could greatly impact me, I'm sure the reverberations among the devoted fast food commoners were vastly more acute. So what's up with all this? If you could concoct a similar scenario, but with an uncertain and lengthy time frame, you could perpetrate enormous damage.

Walmart has dealt with past multiple bomb threats and concluded that it's best to just buy off the perpetrators. I think the threats were mostly in South America. I guess they determined it's better to concede rather than face the negative publicity and consumer fallout. I also remember when suicide bombers in Israel specifically targeted 2 Sbarro restaurants in different cities. I imagine that temporarily crippled those below average Italian eateries. Who the fuck is gonna put their life on the line for cheap Italian cuisine? Figaretti's never sounded so good. Even if their scallops are diminutive and horrifically overcooked. I also remember the accusation of a Steubenville Taco Bell employee taking a dump in the ground beef - now that's some harsh shit. I think that was in 1998-99.

But I'm searching for a scenario that is a little more creative and inventive. It's vital that you cast aspersions upon the ENTIRE retail identity. There's a lot of people that won't eat Domino's pizza because their corporate ownership is very far-right wing and heavily (and publicly) contributes to the pro-life agenda. Then again, I don't eat there simply because their pizza sucks. And when I say sucks, I really mean it. When a person thinks they're in the mood for pizza, who the fuck would automatically think... Mmmmm Domino's? Maybe if you lived in a town of 1,200 and it was the only pizza joint. Still, I'd rather get a frozen one from Piggly Wiggly or whatever.

Back to my underlying point. You need to develop a lightning rod scenario, obtain mass media exposure across the news spectrum and then offer some proof that it's more than an isolated incident. Throw in a catchy jingle or slogan for the American boob-tube junkie and you got it made. Let's say hypothetically that immediately following 9/11, you could have linked the 7/11 corporation or an independent convenience store chain to being Al Qaeda supporters. Maybe tie in the perception of Arab cashiers, predominant Arab franchise ownership and link it to corporate charitable donations to "terrorist" organizations. This could have worked during the aftermath of 9/11.

I'm thinking the best way to destroy a company would be to offer a blitzkrieg of credible links and outright false rumors regarding let's say, a perceived Italian restaurant chain to the never-ending Catholic church pedophile scandal. Could something like this work with an Olive Garden? A better choice would be a smaller chain or a business that has strong ties to the Vatican. Maybe some kind of company that makes high-end frozen lasagna or something. Any denials or attempts at damage control would be an exercise in futility as it would just bring more attention to the debacle. If you can deliver the jingle - "molester mozzarella" or "pedophile pizza" it goes a long way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Figaretti's never sounded so good. Even if their scallops are diminutive and horrifically overcooked"....LOL! I will never go back...seriously!