Monday, August 8, 2011

Sell It With Salmonella

There are very few organizations in the world that can use a salmonella outbreak to boost their recognition.

Listening to Minnesota Public Radio the other day, I heard what to me momentarily sounded like a twisted advertisement mixed with a very real and deadly news story. An interview was taking place with a representative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about a salmonella outbreak occurring in the United States. More than 36 million pounds of ground turkey meat is being recalled nationwide after 76 people became ill and one person died as a result of the bacteria. Right in the middle of the interview, the guy mentioned that these illnesses and many others could be prevented if more people followed the proper food preparation techniques of "Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill" every time they prepared a meal.

This is where the discussion briefly turned away from the very serious story at hand and towards the CDC's new ad campaign and website regarding food safety that was rolled out just weeks before this outbreak. Its tagline is exceedingly simple and useful: "Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill." He rattled off some food poisoning statistics (for example, one in six Americans get sick from foodborne illness every year), explained how following simple instructions could help keep people healthy and invited people to go to their website. The interview then went back to talking about salmonella and E. coli outbreaks that have struck the nation in recent years.

It got me to thinking, though, about just what I stated at the very beginning of this blog post. There aren't many organizations that could get away with exploiting a tragedy to get positive attention. The only others I could think of besides the CDC are other government agencies like the FDA, pharmaceutical companies (antibiotics, anti-virals and vaccinations against various diseases), automakers, insurance companies and politicians. Words like salmonella, E. coli, illness, flooding, auto accidents and death just aren't that sexy.

Do you have any other ideas on organizations or industries that can truly use tragedies to generate attention or even pad their bottom line?

No comments:

Post a Comment