With 400 diners now reported as suffering food poisoning from Heston Blumenthal’s fancy Fat Duck restaurant, a visit to the website shows no attempt at crisis management. It somewhat bizarrely states:
Welcome to The Fat Duck website. We are currently in the process of updating the design, technology and style of this site to offer you a more informative and inspiring visit.
The restaurant is closed at an estimated cost of £100,000 a week – so why does there appear to be little investment in managing the consequences. Arguably the longer term damage to the reputation of Heston Blumenthal, who has far more media mileage after his Little Chef Big Chef appearance.
As the Health Protection Agency is quoted as saying cases have increased owing to media attention, I’m reminded of the 1999 case of Coca-Cola in Belgium when the company blamed “mass hysteria“.
Heston Blumenthal doesn’t appear to have made that mistake, but his spokesperson, Monica Brown is reported as saying he has no comment to make at present.
You cannot simply seek publicity when it suits – and surely it is brand negligence not to at least use your own website to communicate. Hard not to think that this is going to be one fat problem for the innovative chef.