Communication Crisis: Domino’s Pizza, Firestone and Ford Case Study

Description of the case situation

Effective communication during a crisis is one of the most important instruments that can help a firm, especially if the crisis involves an issue of misinformation. Domino’s Pizza crisis where two employees posted a video on YouTube showing how they handled food in an unsanitary way is a case to point out. The incident, which took place in April 2009, took the management of the firm by surprise.

How the organization reacted

When the video went viral, the management decided to ignore the issue, hoping that it would die down in a short while. The chief executive of the firm, Mr. McIntyre, and other executives ignored the power of social media.

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Fearn-Banks (2011) notes, most chief executives had disregarded the relevance of social media as it was considered a simple communication system for teenagers who had enough idle time. The executives at Domino’s Pizza could have shared this view and considered this matter inconsequential. Forty-eight hours later, the management realized that the impact was far much greater than what they had anticipated.

Their communication strategy

The video had been viewed over one million times, and customers were growing anxious because they expected some communication from the firm. It is at this moment that the management responded. The firm created a Tweeter handle to address the concerns of the customers.

The chief executive had to address customers on YouTube and explain to them that the posted video was a work of criminals who were determined to destroy the reputation of the firm. He also informed them that this food was never delivered to the customers.

The outcome of the case

Although this helped in relieving the anxiety, the damage was already done. The firm took too long to respond, allowing the negative information to sink in the minds of the customers. Convincing them that this was just a mistake was not easy.

What the organization could have done instead

The firm should have responded to the issue as soon as it went to social media.

Firestone and Ford’s Case. Description of the case situation

Ford and Firestone also had another controversy that affected their image in the market and destroyed the cordial relationship they had enjoyed for over 100 years. It was reported that Firestone tires mounted on Ford’s Explorer were defective.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the report which blamed both companies on the rising number of accidents experienced by users of Ford’s Explorer that were using Firestone’s tires. Over 250 deaths and 3000 injuries were associated with the poor design of the car, and the quality of the tires (Brooks & Dunn, 2012).

How the organization reacted

An investigation revealed that both companies knew of the defects, but went ahead to introduce the car into the market without making the necessary changes. However, the two firms decided to ignore this report at first. They thought it would die down very soon.

Their communication strategy

The communication approach taken by the two companies in addressing the crisis was very poor. Instead of finding a lasting solution and convincing the consumers that not all Ford Cars or Firestone tires were defective, the two firms decided to blame each other. This convinced the consumers that the two firms were to blame for the series of accidents associated with their products.

The outcome of the case

The management of the two firms made belated attempt to reach out to the consumers and try to build their public relations, but their reputation was already destroyed.

What the organization could have done instead

The two firms should have addressed the issue as a unit instead of blaming each other. They should have apologized over the incident and made corrective measures.


Brooks, L. J. & Dunn, P. (2012). Business & professional ethics for directors, executives, & accountants. Mason: South Western Cengage Learning.

Fearn-Banks, K. (2011). Crisis communications: A casebook approach. New York: Routledge.

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