THE HORSE meat scandal has tested the PR teams of UK food companies to the max, but some are faring much better than others according to new research.
Tesco’s reputation remains 19% stronger than Findus’ – which is now perceived as “underperforming”.
Whilst Tesco’s overall reputation score was found to be in the “satisfactory” category, at 65%, Findus scored a comparatively lower 46% (leaving it in the “underperforming” category). The fact that Findus has tended to keep quiet in the wake of the scandal affected its score, while Tesco was praised for facing the crisis head-on in the media.
Parts of the catering sector have also been criticised for a pedestrian PR response to the crisis.
The new comparison was carried out using Pheme Index – the first reputation evaluation tool that measures media opinions of brands and their activity. The research is based on the responses of a panel of trade media editors. Questions focused on the panel’s perception of the two businesses’ relationship with the trade media – including opinions about their marketing, product quality, and responsibility.
Whilst both brands yielded lower scores for corporate social responsibility (Tesco scored 49.32% and Findus 48.3%), the panel recognised a marked difference in their vision and leadership, with Tesco scoring a high 82.31% and Findus achieving just 53.74%. The research also showed a stark contrast in the branding and marketing category, with Tesco scoring 77.55%, and Findus just 46.6%.
George Robinson, chairman at Media Perception Insight, the research business which commissioned the survey, said the research provides the first accurate measurement of the horse meat scandal’s impact on one of the most critical stakeholder groups for food brands – the trade media.
“Whilst both [Tesco and Findus] have been heavily embroiled in media reporting thus far, our research suggests that even when recognising issues surrounding CSR, Tesco has been perceived more favourably by trade editors,” he explained.
“In the face of criticisms, every journalist asked agreed that Tesco has successful marketing and advertising campaigns in place. This indicates that regardless of the allegations being thrown around, it is the brand’s proactive approach to communications that has allowed it to preserve its positioning amongst this key audience.”