Business Ethics: Falsly Advertising Leads to PR Disaster

Once a good brand is involved with false advertisement, it can suffer from a huge loss of customers, criticisms from various media, penalty from the government authorities, etc. Disastrously, the valuable brand imagine will be destroyed, leading to devastating public relation problems.

Benefiting from the giant yet developing market in China, some transnational corporations started to forget their promises in good food quality and how they once benefit from their once reliable and exceptional brand reputation.

The popular fast food restaurant KFC had experienced several PR disasters, coming from its misleading advertisement and food safety problems. In 2011, KFC advertised its popular soybean milk as “pure” and “natural”, presenting its customers with pictures of ground soybeans as if it was produced from them. However, many customers have witnessed that KFC staff used soybean milk powder or concentrated soybean milk to replace the ground bean.

Soybean milk is a traditional Chinese drink, and Chinese customers extremely value the purity and healthiness of the milk, preferring the traditional process of producing it. Comparing with those unreliable street vendors without food certificates, Chinese customers trusted KFC’s food quality so that they were willing to pay six times higher the price than the regular price in local supermarkets to buy their soybean milk. Yet, the falsely advertised commercial completely wiped out people’s interests in the product, also led to huge mistrust and criticisms to the brand among the society.

A remarkable brand image and solid reputation can help the company grow sustainably. For those famous franchised restaurants, they should maintain the high standard and treat their customers around the world responsibly and equally. In the case of KFC, some Chinese customers even questioned why those transnational companies cannot guarantee the food quality globally and comply with their promises and visions in a different country. I think that this is a discrimination and inequality towards developing countries in the form of bad management decision in terms of marketing.

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