In response to Panera Bread’s “EZ Chicken” Twitter campaign, which it was using to promote its antibiotic-free chicken, up-in-arms farmers have launched a Twitter counter-campaign using the hashtag #PluckEZChicken.
Here’s what’s going on.
Panera’s @EZChicken Twitter account, which has since been deleted, was posting cartoons of a mix between a chicken and a pill with slogans like, “Hard work pays off eventually. But lazy pays off now.” The implication was that Panera was calling farmers who use antibiotics lazy.
In response, folks like blogger Dairy Carrie, a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, have taken to their blogs and to Twitter in an uproar over these allegations. One post by Dairy Carrie, an open letter to Panera, reads,
“This idea sounds more like one of those interns who gets pissed off and tries to take down a company via Twitter. I mean really, who in the world would approve a marketing campaign that insults the very people that provide every scrap of ingredient that makes your product?”
“But wait you say, Panera isn’t calling all farmers and ranchers lazy! They are just calling the ones that use antibiotics lazy! I used antibiotics to help a sick calf get better last week, my friends the organic farmers had a cow with pneumonia and they gave that cow antibiotics to make her better. They had to sell her, but she lived. Does that mean we are lazy? Is it lazy to take care of our sick animals?”
After three days, Dairy Carrie got a response from Michael Simon, Chief Marketing Officer for Panera Bread, who agreed to take down all the images and references to EZChicken but defended other elements of the campaign.
Panera has deleted the microsite of its EZChicken marketing campaign, and has been issuing individual apologies via Twitter:
@MrsZookeeper We never intended to insult anyone with our EZ Chicken posts, especially farmers. We truly appreciate all their hard work.
— Panera Bread (@panerabread) July 27, 2013
@KaylaRHedrick We're so sorry to anyone we have offended, Kayla. We greatly appreciate the entire farming community & all they do.
— Panera Bread (@panerabread) July 29, 2013
Is there anything further you think Panera’s crisis communications team should do at this point? Would this situation dissuade you from patronizing Panera in the future?
(Chickens image via Shutterstock.)