Thanks to a random social media post by a few of its employees earlier this week, Burger King is now facing a huge public relations nightmare. The post is a photo of an employee’s feet in lettuce, the same lettuce used on your Whopper, salad or chicken sandwich. It’s enough to make you swear off Burger King forever.
So, what’s Burger King done to reduce the damage? Well, they fired three employees from the Mayfield Heights, Ohio Burger King franchise where the photo was taken. They issued a statement to the media saying that this was an isolated incident and that food safety is top priority at Burger King. And, they’ve tried to contain the problem by keeping quiet; there’s been no mention of the photo on Burger King’s official Twitter or Facebook account. However, the Mayfield Heights Facebook page did post the photo and received tons of comments.
I’d like to say that Burger King’s in the clear, that this photo will just disappear, but it probably won’t. The truth is, this one photo has already gone viral, just plug in the keywords: “Burger King Lettuce” and you get tons of coverage on the incident. The funny thing is, it may be an isolated incident, but it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. Just ask Domino’s.
In 2009, a YouTube video showing two Domino’s employees making a sandwich was posted. In the video, the employees put snot on the sandwich, fart on the meat, and do other gross stuff before sending it out to the unsuspecting customer. The video went viral and Domino’s sales did a nosedive. So, what did the company do? A lot.
Through a series of ads, the company admitted they had let quality slip over the last few years, and were now looking to make things right. They revamped their entire product line, introducing new better tasting recipes, and created a delivery tracker, enabling people to see who was making their order and when it would be ready. The tracker encourages interaction between employees and customers, and has helped restore Domino’s credibility.
The Domino’s story illustrates just how hard Burger King may have to work to regain people’s trust. It’s still unclear how much harm the photo’s already done or will continue to do to the company’s reputation; only time and sales will tell. For now, we’ll just have to sit back and hope the people making our food aren’t spitting on it, picking it up off the floor or rubbing it with their feet.