There are two rules at a dinner party… no politics and no religion.
I find most big businesses are pretty quiet when it comes to showing who runs the show; their personality, likes/dislikes, etc. In the absence of a leader to hear from, it’s easy to imagine what you think a brand’s values are and what it stands for. For me, Coopers Beer fell under that category. I thought it was a cool, old school beer brand, ran out of Adelaide.
Then Biblegate happened and I think I may have seen too much about who runs Coopers Beer. Now I know that they donate money to the Bible Society and to the Liberal Party and I know they don’t have a communications crisis plan in place when things go pear-shaped.
Biblegate is a communications crisis. Coopers Beer has suffered a major hit to its reputation because of what its done. If this ever happens to your business, you need to follow the the first rule of comms crisis management: tell the truth, tell it all and tell it fast.
For better or worse, social media has a way of unravelling the truth and now everyone has a platform to shout their opinion from. The sticky mess Coopers found themselves in is a two-part mixture, an epoxy resin if you will.
Firstly, mixing the brand with religion and politics, especially when your product is alcohol, is a moral minefield.
Secondly, when this went public, Coopers should have been realistic about how the Australian public would perceive it. A straw poll of one says they’re not going to react well. The contradicting press releases and the baffled managers’ faces showed me they had never predicted that this was going to be such a big deal.
Which is precisely why companies need to have a comms crisis plan in place, so if the worst happens, you’re ready to say what you mean and mean what you say. Honesty counts for a lot, well maybe not so much in politics and religion, but it definitely does when it comes to consumers buying your product.