Five graduate students in this past autumn’s Graduate Corporate Communication class (PRAD 562) have presented winning cases in the 2014 Arthur W. Page Society’s Case Study Competition in Corporate Communications.
Kristen Piotrowski authored “Firing the Founder: A Men’s Wearhouse Identity Crisis”, Dionne Gomez and Erin Reed authored “The Need for Cultural Intelligence: An Analysis of Asiana Airlines’ Response to the Crash Landing of Flight 214” and Joanna Scott and Catherine Schuler authored “Tainted Yogurt: An Analysis of Chobani’s Mold Crisis” (abstracts below).
Piotrowski, Gomez and Reed’s papers earned first place prizes, while Scott and Schuler earned a second place prize. Public Relations and Advertising
Professor Matt Ragas served as faculty adviser on all three prize winning papers.
“Firing the Founder: A Men’s Wearhouse Identity Crisis"
On Wednesday June 19th, 2013, Men’s Wearhouse fired 64-year-old George Zimmer, who founded the company at the age of 26 and grew it into a retail empire of over 1,140 stores nationwide. Over the next week, Men’s Wearhouse faced customer backlash about the termination, waged a largely public battle of wills with Zimmer, sought to ease investor discomfort with the decision, and attempted to re-invent the Men’s Wearhouse brand – all under the intense glare of the media spotlight. The accompanying case provides an opportunity to study the communications ramifications of top-level executive conflict, as well as the complexities of brand reputation management following the loss of company icons such as founders or spokespersons.
“The Need for Cultural Intelligence: An Analysis of Asiana Airlines’ Response to the Crash Landing of Flight 214”
On July 6, 2013, Asiana Airlines’ Flight 214 crashed while attempting to land at the San Francisco International Airport. This case addresses the crisis communication efforts Asiana undertook with key stakeholders in the U.S. in the wake of the crash. It assesses the social and traditional media communication activities of Asiana in the U.S. and how cross-cultural norms affected perceptions of this communication. The crash demonstrates the need for corporate communication professionals at multi-national companies to have cross-cultural competence and training. More precisely, the case considers the theory of cultural intelligence, which is defined as the ability to recognize and comprehend different beliefs, practices, attitudes, and behaviors of a group and then apply that certain cultural knowledge to attain your goals – whether those goals are political, business or otherwise. The case is ultimately valuable to all global companies building their cross-cultural acumen.
“Tainted Yogurt: An Analysis of Chobani’s Mold Crisis”
In August 2013, Greek yogurt producer Chobani faced its first real crisis as customers complained about bulging, bad tasting cups of yogurt. Although social media had been instrumental in the company’s brand loyalty and rapid growth, in this situation, it empowered customers to criticize Chobani’s handling of the crisis. This case study details Chobani’s history, the Greek yogurt market and its crisis response. It provides an example of the power of social media and consumers’ heightened expectations about transparency. This case demonstrates the importance of planning communication efforts for crisis situations and anticipating public reaction from all possible channels.
Congratulations to Kristen, Dionne, Erin, Joanna, Catherine, and Prof. Ragas on this important success.