Oct 23rd 2013

Malcolm Walker Iceland Foods

ICELAND FOODS - TALKING HORSEMEAT

Feeling chilly after Life in the Freezer Cabinet

I suppose it’s the nature of good TV to leave the viewer wanting more, but I can’t help feeling that I was left a little cold by the newest offering from the BBC: Iceland Foods: Life In the Freezer Cabinet
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01j18bz

It’s a fly on the wall documentary, which had suggested that we’d be treated to the strategy behind Iceland’s handling of its response to the horsemeat scandal. So with my Doner Pan Kebab Pizza hot out of the oven, it was a night in front of the TV for me.

Love him or hate him, Malcolm Walker http://about.iceland.co.uk/the-boss/ described on the programme as Iceland supermarket’s maverick CEO, is definitely good TV, but I’m still left wondering what on earth possessed him to go on national TV and place the blame for the horsemeat scandal at the feet of anyone but Iceland.

But I did have to raise a smile at Mr Walker’s comment that the horsemeat scandal was last week’s news.

Walker’s insistence that the blame for the horsemeat scandal lay at the door of the foodservice industry was one which was met with incredulity at the time, with the majority of people wondering what on earth drove the strategy. I wouldn’t like to add a spoiler, but to me it looks a lot like ‘let’s blame someone else so that our sales don’t suffer’!
I remember watching that interview and shouting at the TV “what are you doing!”

The horsemeat scandal saw a number of different strategies employed – from the brands that said nothing to Mr Walker at the other end of the spectrum. Of course, in the pressure cooker of a crisis, when reaction time is limited and resource is stretched, decision making is at its most difficult.

I’m going to have to have to watch another episode to get a clearer view, but from the trailers, at least we’ll get something that’s not normally shared, the strategy behind the decisions taken.

Well done BBC, you’ve guaranteed another viewer next week. I want some more.

Keith Beech is director of Core Management – Crisis, Organisation and Reputation which is part of the Nexus Communications Group