When A Good Deed Gets Slammed

I recently read an article in drovers.com that I found very interesting. It seems that Yellow Tail wine, based in Australia, was set to support the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). However, according to this article, many U.S. wine drinkers and food producers were unhappy with this decision.

At first glance, I wondered why…isn’t helping animals a good thing? It turns out that there are reports that very little of the money that runs through HSUS actually goes to the care and help of animals. The groups that were against Yellow Tail supporting HSUS used social media as a part of their campaign to get the winemaker to reconsider it’s support. Through tools such as Facebook and YouTube, they showcased their thoughts and opinions and explained why they felt Yellow Tail could find a better avenue to help animals.

The backlash surprised Yellow Tail. And, from a communicator’s perspective, I can only imagine what it was like in their organization as they watched this campaign grow and take on a life of its own.

To its credit, Yellow Tail listened to the groups that wanted it to rethink what it was doing. And they looked to find a compromise where they could keep their commitment to HSUS (a commitment that they had already made) and, given the information provided by the other groups, make sure the money did, indeed go to helping animals.

It could have been that Yellow Tail felt that they should go through with the commitment as they had originally set, but in this case, the information provided by the group campaigning against this contribution appears to have swayed them to change. This group provided compelling information to Yellow Tail. It wasn’t just because they didn’t “like” something, it was because a wider range of people came together to point out what they felt was an error in judgment on Yellow Tail’s part.  Yellow Tail listened and then responded. I think it shows that Yellow Tail is a brand that listens to its consumers.

When I look at successful PR campaigns, perhaps at first glance, this one might not seem to have hit the target. But in the longer term, I think that it shows that Yellow Tail wants to do the right thing, that the organization is willing to listen, to admit that it was wrong and to make things right.  No brand is perfect. Mistakes will be made, but in my opinion, Yellow Tail more than redeemed itself. And the next time I am looking for a bottle of wine, I might just pick up Yellow Tail. Just to show my support.

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