Category Archives: Uncategorized

Copenhagen Zoo

Early last week the Copenhagen Zoo announced to the public that they euthanized four of their lions: two adults and two cubs.  The reason they provided to the public was that they were receiving a new male lion that would disrupt the rest of the pride, and that killing the four lions would allow for a more “natural” transition.  They issued a statement saying that it was favourable to keep two of their young female cubs and find a suitable male cub, rather than keeping the pride the way it was.  The zoo said that they had attempted to find a new home for the lions but that no one was willing to take them.

Here is a photo of one of the female cubs they are hoping will mate:

The outrage from the public has been tremendous, and this is not the first time in recent history the zoo has been a point of controversy. Earlier in March, the Copenhagen Zoo killed one of their giraffes then dissected it and fed it to their lions – all in front of school children.  This giraffe, named Marius, was in apparent healthy condition and two other zoos offered to take him in.  The Copenhagen Zoo refused to let him go, and opted to euthanize him instead.

This week in class we discussed Birk Johar’s article How to Save Your Brand in the Face of Crisis, which included a flow chart called “Crisis Communication Network/Decision Making Tree”.  When I follow this flow chart for the Copenhagen Crisis it tells me that I should reduce the perception of brand responsibility and intentionality, and of repeat occurrence. It then tells me that my recommended communication options are: “come clean”, “polish the halo”, “not just me”, and “inoculation”.

In this particular crisis I would chose the “come clean” approach, which means that the brand should accept responsibility and apologize.  They should make it clear that this will not happen again and that they will actively try to prevent it from re-occurring.

The Copenhagen Zoo should first apologize and admit that they could have done more to prevent the untimely deaths of these animals.  They could then provide all of the facts that they used during the decision making process, and become completely transparent. They should consider investing money into a campaign or project that would allow these animals to be transferred to another home.  They could also fire their CEO or someone who is higher up on the chain-of-command.



McDonald’s: Wage Theft

Protests have been breaking out in McDonald’s restaurants all over the United States over issues regarding owed overtime wages.  More than 20 protests have taken place in over 30 United States cities, mostly in New York, California, and Michigan.  McDonald’s is currently facing multiple class-action lawsuits over wage theft.  These lawsuits state that employees are being forced to work through breaks, or off the clock.  There is evidence that some workers are being paid lower than the hourly federal minimum set by the state.

Earlier this week one owner of McDonald’s franchises, Cisneros, entered a settlement of $500, 000 after requiring employers to launder their uniforms without paying them to do so.   Employees decided to take action because of the news of this settlement. The McDonald’s protests encouraged a larger group of employees from other fast-food chains to share their troubles with wage theft.

With these protests comes the news of the creation of an anonymous hotline where fast-food employees can report theft of their pay or abuse from their employers.   McDonald’s has responded to these protests by stating that they will investigate these allegations.

Here is a photo of the protest in New York:

Although allegations of fraud and theft are coming from employees of many different fast-food chains, McDonald’s is definitely in a state of crisis.

It has been one week since this crisis and McDonald’s has yet to officially respond to the protests or the allegations, and that is their first huge mistake.  According to Zaremba, the foundation of crisis communication includes avoiding denial and admitting the wrongdoing. Although some of these cases involve specific franchise owners, not the company as a whole, McDonald’s is still responsible for their employees’ wellbeing and should take a more active role in the recovery of their wages.

As you can see from the above photo of the protest, protestors have taken McDonald’s slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” and created signs that say: “Labour Abuse, Not Lovin’ It”.  This is an example of advertising turned against a company in the form of a “meme”.

I think that McDonald’s should create a media kit that addresses the allegations and admits that some fraudulent behaviour has occurred. They should detail a full plan on how to ensure that their franchises are regulated.  They should also plan to give money back to their employees and create a strong workplace where everyone is valued.


Zaremba, Alan Jay. Crisis Communication: Theory and Practice. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010. Print.

York University Shooting

On Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 11:00pm a shooting took place at York University, in Toronto, Canada.  Two women were harmed and transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.  The police arrived shortly after the incident to investigate and claim that they do not believe the victims to have been targets.  On March 13, 2014 Kemon Edwards, a suspect in this crime, was arrested with charges including: discharging a firearm, endangering life, carrying a concealed weapon, and more drug and weapon related charges.  In addition to Edwards four more people were arrested and are facing similar charges.

York University responded by adding additional security to the food court, where the incident took place.  They have also said that they are considering the installation of security cameras.  Kemon Edwards is not a student at York University, and it is not being revealed why he was on the campus.

Many students at York University are shaken up over these events, though some are not surprised that they happened.  According to a student, other incidents that have happened recently at the university include assault and armed robbery.

A photo of the Toronto Police investigating the crime scene: 

On the micro level this is a crisis for the two women who were injured in the shooting, as well as all of the victims of psychological trauma surrounding the incident.  On the meso level, this is a crisis for York University.  And, on the macro level this crisis has the potential to affect Canada, Toronto, and Toronto Universities.  I think that the way that York responds to this very sensitive topic, and the actions that they take from here on out will determine how big of an impact a shooting with have on the city and its universities.  What can York University do to bring back their reputation?  What promises can they make to protect their students?

If York University has had a problem with safety and security in the past, why are they not more prepared to handle this situation now?  It seems to me that future “consideration” of security cameras and a couple more security guards in one area aren’t going to prevent crime from happening.  This is something that the university should already have a plan for.  The first two questions of Zaremba’s Golden Rule Approach are: What would you want to know? and What would you need to know?   In this instance, the students and their families, as well as the university’s investors want and need to know the steps that are going to be taken to ensure safety.


Zaremba, Alan Jay. Crisis Communication: Theory and Practice. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010. Print.

Netflix Phishing Scam

A new Internet scam has arrived, and this time it is attacking Netflix Inc. and its customers.  It is a type of scam that is referred to as a “phishing scam”, which is a scam that is designed to acquire personal details, such as passwords and credit card numbers.  This particular scam operates from a website that is designed to look like Netflix’s login page.

Once the victim is on this page it tells them that something is wrong with their Netflix account and advises them to call a customer service number.  When they call this fake customer service number, the scammers ask them to download “support software” for Netflix, which actually turns out to be remote login software that enables the scammers to have full access to your computer and everything on it.  From there, they look around for credit card information.  At the end of the phone conversation the scammers attempt to seek payment for their help.

            What makes this scam different is the fact that they are asking their victims to contact them.  Netflix has not yet responded to this crisis.  Here is a photo of what the website looks like: 

            Although the scam did not have anything to do with Netflix’s security or any failing on Netflix’s part, the company is still going to receive backlash and customers will be weary.  This week in class we talked about social media and crisis, and although this case doesn’t involve social media it does involve the use of Web 2.0 and shows how the Internet can affect and shape companies.

This is a case where it would not be in Netflix’s best interest to use social media or any kind of online platform to respond to this crisis.  I think that if they used social media their customers could end up doubting their authenticity.  The one thing that I think would help them overcome this crisis would be to add a page on their own website that includes warning and instructions about the scam.  They could add pictures to represent the risk and explain or show how customers can tell the difference between their website and the fake website.

Teething Toy for Newborns Recalled

On February 22, 2014, the company Infantino recalled their “Squeeze and Teeth Monkey” after several reports of infants choking.  The toy is small, about 4 ½”, and is an orange monkey that squeaks.  The part of the toy that is making infants gag is the tail of the monkey.  These toys are exclusively sold at the large box-store, Target, though Target has issued no official statement or recall.  The recalled toy has been selling at Target for approximately two years.

Inside the toy, on the back left leg, there is a serial number. The serial number for the recalled toys is: 206-647.  Approximately 200,000 of these toys with the recalled serial number have been sold.  Infantino has a similar toy, with the serial number 206-949 that has not been affected by this recall.

Infantino states that anyone who bought and is using this toy should stop immediately and call the company to set up a replacement toy. This toy is marketed for newborn babies and up.  No serious injuries have been reported.

Here is a picture of the recalled toy:

In our last class we discussed visual representation of risks and crisis.  Regina Lundgren’s book, Risk Communication: A Handbook for Communicating Environmental, Safety, and Health Risks, states that visual representation should be for specific audiences and uses.  Lundgren says: “you will need to identify three things: what people want to know, what they need to know to make an informed decision, and how the visual information will be used.”

In the case of this article, the target audience is parents who have purchase the toy.  The people want to know what toy is affected. They need to know why and how it is bad, and how it can pose a risk to their child. The visual information is used as confirmation that the toy they bought is the one being recalled.

On Infantino’s official recall of the monkey, they only include one picture (the one I’ve included above).  Though this may be sufficient in some cases, Infantino has stated in their recall that there is a similar product that is not being recalled.  This raises many questions: How similar are the two toys? What does the toy that is safe look like? Which one do I have?  Infantino could have answered these questions by posting photograph of the other product in a side-by-side comparison.


Lundgren, Regina E., and Andrea H. McMakin. Risk Communication: A Handbook for Communicating Environmental, Safety, and Health Risks. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Print.

Wal-Mart Recalls Donkey Meat in China

On January 2, 2014, Wal-Mart recalled donkey meat in China, fearing that the meat was not actually donkey.  On a Chinese social media website it was announced by Wal-Mart that they were investigating the source of the meat and would reimburse anyone who had purchased it.

Over the past several years, China’s food market has had several scares and setbacks, and this is not the first time Wal-Mart has been a part of it.  Because of China’s already vulnerable state in regards to food safety issues, this could result in major harm for Wal-Mart.  The President and CEO of Walmart China, Greg Foran, issued an apology, saying: “We are deeply sorry for this whole affair.  It is a deep lesson (for us) that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management.”

Wal-Mart has also said that they intend to seek legal action toward the supplier of the donkey meat.  It is suspected that the donkey meat actually included traces of fox meat.

In this week’s class we discussed cultural theory.  Alan Zaremba’s book, Crisis Communication, Theory and Practice defines Cultural Theory as the following: “Cultural theory is based on the premise that a phenomenon that can be appropriately labeled “organizational culture” exists.  In the same way that ethnicities are said to have distinctive cultures, cultural theory assumes that individual organizations can be said to have distinctive cultures.”

Zaremba goes on to say that cultural theory suggests that there is a strong, interdependent relationship between culture and communication within a company or organization.

I think that, in terms of the Chinese Wal-Mart scandal, it is difficult for consumers to tell what exactly went wrong.  It could have had something to do with the culture that exists within the Chinese Wal-Mart, and the fact that there was a lack of monitoring of the food supplier could have had to do with lack of communication within the company.

I also think that Wal-Mart responded appropriately, at least to the best of their ability.  They showed not only concern for those consumers who purchased the donkey meat, but also toward China’s food safety, in general.  They have owned up to the mistake that was made by their company, while also admitting that they are going to take legal action toward the original supplier of the meat.  It really raises the question of who is to blame the most.  Does the supplier carry the blame for cross-contamination of meat, or is Wal-Mart to blame for blindly selling the meat?


Zaremba, Alan Jay. Crisis Communication: Theory and Practice. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010. Print.