Another Brand Meltdown for Blue Bell

Screen Shot 2016 09 22 at 8.19.59 AM

A primary brand attribute of Blue Bell Ice Cream has to be delicious. However, it seems to be aspiring to reshape its positioning to embrace the attribute of listeria. Can a bacteria be an appropriate attribute for a delicious dessert? 

Once again, Blue Bell is pulling the cows from the marketplace back to the barn. In this case, the ice cream maker is recalling its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and its newest flavor Cookie Two Step. One step forward, two steps back. The reason for the voluntary recall is the concern that the flavors may contain the deadly listeria bacteria that forced a complete shutdown of the creamery operation in April 2015 and forced a nation to go through a complete withdrawal from its addiction to the dessert.

No product likes a recall, whether it's voluntary or imposed. In this particular two-step by Blue Bell, it voluntarily stepped forward by issuing a recall of the two product flavors and then took two steps backward by deflecting the responsibility to a third-party supplier and limiting the recall to a selected number of markets. When word gets to consumers in Texas or other states about the potential health concern associated with the two flavors, you can imagine what flavors will be left melting on the shelves or washed down the sink disposal.

In a recall situation, there is always going to be a struggle between protecting the brand, protecting the consumer and protecting the revenue stream. When a company confuses or dilutes the most important concern, which should aways be the consumer, then it will tend to find itself taking a defensive posture and initially following a path of least resistance until external pressure builds or the product under question turns the company's cautious concern into a full-blown, self-induced crisis.