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Kraft says sorry – but the damage is done

March 16, 2010 Jonathan Hemus

Today Kraft stood before the House of Commons Business Committee and gave its side of the story as to why it apparently misled the public about the future of Cadbury’s Keynsham site.  Kraft made a statement in the course of its takeover battle that indicated that it would maintain production at the threatened factory, but confirmed its closure shortly after the deal was done.

This has landed Kraft with a massive reputational hurdle as its credibility is severely harmed by its approach to communication: how can anyone respect a company which appears to speak with forked tongue? Today’s apology – Kraft’s Marc Firestone – said that he and the company were “terribly sorry” for the anguish they caused, will go some way to mending the damage, but nowhere near far enough.  It’s a case of too little, too late.

Cadbury has a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of people across the UK, and for Kraft, re-building trust and preserving the qualities inherent within the Cadbury brand will be fundamental to its long term success (note that Kraft did confirm to MPs that the Dairy Milk brand will be preserved – no surprise there).  For other businesses planning mergers and acquisitions – or any corporate change – it underlines the importance of only making public statements that you can keep.  Fail to do this and the value of the brand that you have just bought, may all of a sudden be worth a whole lot less.

Jonathan Hemus

  • Jonathan Hemus, Insignia Communications
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