You've done it, I've done it... We've all done it. There is something so satisfying about taking a spoonful of cookie dough and enjoying every morsel of the unbaked goodness. After all, what harm can be done from just one little taste of this chocolaty goodness?
If you were in America in March 2009, consuming Nestle Toll House cookie dough could prove to be fatal. From March of that year over 70 people became ill, by a common strain of the E. Coli bacteria, all citing that they had eaten raw and uncooked cookie dough. One can imagine what this crisis could do to brand reputation, Nestle faced mountains of bad press as the victims grew worse, as the thought of any deaths rang in the ears of journalists covering the story nationwide.
A classic case of crisis management was on the hands of Nestle, as they would have to take all the right steps to ever recover from this incident. Acting with perfect precision and not a moment too late, within 24 hours Nestle had voluntarily recalled all cookie dough products within the US, advising them being thrown out and to be cared for with extreme care, as cross contamination is a factor as well. The company took even more steps to thwart sayings of mismanagement, by offering full refunds for those wanting to return the products and reassuring those that had consumed the products after being baked, would be fine. Also stopping all production of new products at the Virginia plant where the contaminated cookie dough had been produced, Nestle seem to be quick and concise decisions.
Seemingly taking notes directly from W. Timothy Coombs, Nestle produced a near perfect accommodating strategy. Meaning the strategy not only met immediate crisis communication demands, by acting within 24 hours of the rise of the problem, but it also subsequently was repairing the organization's reputation and image, by acting in the best interest of the consumer.
From a PR standpoint, Nestle executed a clear crisis management communications strategy and in the end, the cookie dough crisis of 2009 would adversely affect sales. Nestle's year end profits reportedly fell 42%. While this sounds like a huge percentage to fall, Nestle actually increased sales in different areas, so the crisis management strategy put in place by the cookie dough crisis was not lost, by all.