Blue Bell, you are in trouble, and you know it. I feel for you. I am desperately worried for you. You are one of Texas’s most beloved brands and you treat your employees with respect and love. But with reports of Listeria, you are facing tens of millions in short term damages to your brand – lost products, lost sales, a closed factory (temporary), pending (inevitable) litigation, etc. I hate that this is happening to you, but it is happening and there is one thing I don’t understand. Where is your digital marketing platform?
What has happened is truly awful, but what can you do now? You need to control your messaging, your response.
But wait, what tools do you have at your disposal that you control? Twitter? No. Facebook? No. Any social media platform? No. Your website? Yeah, okay, not the best platform for what you need to do, but it’s a start.
But have you developed any messaging there? A press release. What do you rely on? The news? I hate to tell you this, but they are NOT your friends or your allies. They have an opportunity to string you up in front of the world (and they will) and you will be voiceless, powerless.
Grocery stores are pulling all of your products. Thankfully H-E-B is restocking you this week. Long-time advocates are tossing your frozen brand in the trash without a second glance. How are you reaching them Blue Bell? How are you letting them know you care, that you are doing something about this? People are NOT actively looking for your apologies or response. They’ve heard the terrible stories, and unless those news stations relay your messaging, you are hosed.
Your brand will pull you through some of this tragedy Blue Bell, I hope, but you will be diminished. Tens of thousands of your loyal fan base will never return. And the frustrating part there is that you may have been able to recover at least some of those lost. You have been a staple for Central Texas for years. You were either too arrogant or too afraid to tackle social media and build out an audience in that space. For years, you were able to get away with it, until now. So, the question is, what will you do now Blue Bell? How are you going to add your voice to this debacle so everyone hears you? Or, is it too late?
I’m not writing this because I hate you, Bluebell. As a matter of fact, it’s just the opposite for me. I’ve grown up on your brand. My first taste of ice cream was Bluebell. What’s in my freezer (until recently) has been Bluebell. But I am upset with you. I love you, and yet now I feel like you are desperately out of touch with me, your loyal fan. Please adapt. Please build your digital platform.
And for everyone else out there? Let this be a lesson to you. Blue Bell Ice Cream has been a beloved Texas brand for decades. Even with cases of Listeria, I still love their products. Unless you think your brand is untouchable, because your product is simply gold to the consumer, then you better be building a digital platform you can control.