Marc Le Menestrel
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Communication in Ethical Crisis: Who Won the Danone Boycott? (Case Study and Discussion) Friday 24th of June 2013

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by Marc Le Menestrel (9/10/2011)

Summary

The boycott of Groupe Danone that began in France in the spring of 2001 offers a rich case study of issues that have long intrigued practitioners (notably journalists and managers) and scholars of organizational crises. The firm’s decision to close a number of biscuit factories in France at a time when it was making double-digit profits generated an adversary coalition of unions, politicians, anti-globalists and online media. Their call for a boycott, on a scale unprecedented in France, generated massive interest in whether or not consumers followed their lead. The apparent victor was Danone, which claimed to emerge from the boycott unharmed. The biggest consumer boycott in French history flopped, as numerous observers had predicted. Or did it?

Required reading

• Hunter, Marc, Le Menestrel, Marc & de Bettignies, Henri-Claude. “Who Won the Danone Boycott?”. INSEAD Case Study N° 5344, 2006.

Question to prepare: If ever you are publicly accused of unethical behaviour, how would you like to react given what you have learned in the course?

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