Ono the Ostrich CRISIS MANAGER
The Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management
Editor: Erik Bernstein
Publisher: Jonathan Bernstein

"For Those Who Are Crisis Managers,
Whether They Want to be or Not"

© 2016 Jonathan Bernstein

Whole Foods Fights Back Against Manufactured Outrage

Volume XVII, Number 4

April 29, 2016

Just a Thought

"Arrogance and denial are two of the most powerful forces in history."

- Jonathan Bernstein

From the Editor
Outrage is the buzzword of 2016, and it's popping up everywhere. Some of it is well-deserved, some of it is completely manufactured, and most is somewhere in between.

It's the utterly manufactured outrage that's truly bothersome. The internet gives one voice the power to be heard, truly an amazing gift, but all-too-often we're seeing someone with a vendetta or seeking personal gain turn the masses on an innocent party.

This appears to be the case in a clash between Whole Foods and openly gay Texas pastor Jordan Brown. Earlier this month, Brown made claims that a cake ordered from Whole Foods' bakery meant to read, "Love Wins", was instead handed to him with the text, "Love Win Fag" scrawled across its face. Brown posted an angry tweet, and his law firm followed up by sharing a YouTube video Brown had recorded of the allegedly still-sealed cake, along with an announcement of intent to schedule press conferences and file suit.

Whole Foods did a quick internal investigation and, thanks to sharp eyes on their own in-store cameras, found plenty of ammo to fire back at the accusations. In a complete turnaround from previous sluggish and sub-par communications, the popular market chain responded with a complete denial. Whole Foods quickly compiled the following facts into press releases, social media-ready responses, and a newsroom page:

  • All bakery items come in packaging with clear lids and customers are asked to inspect designs before taking them from that area.
  • Mr. Brown's YouTube video of the "unaltered" cake shows a label affixed to the side and bottom of the box. Camera footage from the store (below) clearly shows the cashier scanning a label on the top of the box when Mr. Brown was checking out.
  • And, the final nail in the coffin for this attempt at manufacturing outrage - the team member who designed the cake is a proud member of the LGBTQ community.

Whole Foods Cake
Whole Foods Cake Response Footage

By sharing these facts in a timely, calm, and organized fashion Whole Foods utterly dismantled this ugly attack. You do need to be careful to ensure you can prove you're in the right before taking as aggressive a stance as this, but if you have the proof it's an excellent template to follow.
- EB

Interested in reprinting BCM articles or blog posts?
We're happy to give permission for material to be reprinted in hard copy or online!

If you find something you would like to reprint, simply submit a request to jonathan@bernsteincrisismanagement.com.


The Bernstein Crisis Management blog, along with our blog at the Free Management Library are frequently updated and filled with case studies, advice, and the latest news on techniques, threats, and more.

Here, we share a look at some of the most popular posts from recent weeks:

Induced Earthquakes and Your Disaster Management Plans drills into the topic of quakes emerging as a serious threat in areas far outside of where you might normally expect thanks to fracking and similar operations.

Trolls will be trolls, and you need to expect it. That's the major lesson in Tay AI, or Why Interactive Content is a Crisis Minefield.

Though some clashes are inevitable, failing to prevent an excessive amount of Workplace Conflict is Costly.

The direct results of the VW scandal can be seen in the company's own ledgers, but the scope of the damage doesn't stop there. VW Scandal Accelerates Geek Squad's Car Swap Plans is one example of how the emissions issue created greater loss for the automaker.

The playwright known as Publius Terentius Afer, or Terence, was reknowned for his writing ability, and one of his most famous quotes led us down the discussion found in Crisis Management Quotables...on Learning from Others.

Are Spear Phishing and "Whaling" Attacks Putting You in Danger? These targeted hacks are on the rise, nearly costing Mattel a cool $3 million just last month.

Do you have a topic you'd like to see featured in our blogs? Send an email to erik@bernsteincrisismanagement.com and there's a good chance you'll be seeing it right here in the next issue!

Business Announcements
(aka blatant self-promotion)
Are There Any Holes in Your Crisis Planning?

Your organization may well have crisis prevention and response-related plans in place - but are you sure they're going to cover all the bases? Bernstein Crisis Management's Crisis Document Audit is a low-cost, flat-rate service which will quickly provide you with a comprehensive analysis of your existing plans and recommendations for improvement.

Contact jonathan@bernsteincrisismanagement.com for more information.

We're Giving Away Keeping the Wolves at Bay and other crisis publications!

Several new items have been added to our FREE crisis management library, including Keeping the Wolves at Bay, the widely used media-training manual published by Jonathan Bernstein.

To visit the download page, click here.

Exciting New Services from Bernstein Crisis Management

We are are proud to introduce two new services that will allow us to better meet the needs of our clients!

First, from entering new markets to defending billion-dollar established industries, BCM's public affairs practice, led by twenty year veteran Greg Brooks, will help you win the battle for the hearts and minds of audiences from City Council to the halls of Congress.

Our second addition is based on the belief that an important piece in managing a crisis includes attending to the emotional reactions that influence the outcome. Presented and facilitated by Steven Degelsmith, Ph.D., our focused human factors in crisis management service will equip you with the tools you need to handle even the most volatile of situations.
Social Media Crisis Training

A solid social media manager has quickly become a must-have for organizations of any size, and can make an immense difference by driving in customers and building your positive reputation online.

The problem is, the vast majority are simply not equipped to even identify building crises, much less take the steps necessary to cope with and mitigate the damage that can result.

That's where we come in.

Bernstein Crisis Management is now offering crisis management training for social media managers, both independent and in-house, as well as social media firms.

For an overview of our services, estimates, or more information, contact erik@bernsteincrisismanagement.com

About Us

Jonathan Bernstein is both publisher of Crisis Manager and president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., a national crisis management public relations agency providing 24/7 access to crisis response professionals. The agency engages in the full spectrum of crisis management services: crisis prevention, response, planning & training. He has been in the public relations field since 1982, following five-year stints in both military intelligence and investigative reporting.

Write to Jonathan at:

Erik Bernstein is vice president of Bernstein Crisis Management. Working in crisis management since 2009, Erik has watched the internet and social media change the field. Today, he brings that experience to bear assisting clients to protect and grow their reputations using tactics based on real-world knowledge and experience.

Write to Erik at:

Legal Disclaimer (aka the small print)

All information contained herein is obtained by Jonathan Bernstein from sources believed by Jonathan Bernstein to be accurate and reliable.

Because of the possibility of human and mechanical error as well as other factors, neither Jonathan Bernstein nor Bernstein Crisis Management is responsible for any errors or omissions. All information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Bernstein Crisis Management and Jonathan Bernstein make no representations and disclaim all express, implied, and statutory warranties of any kind to the user and/or any third party including, without limitation, warranties as to accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose.

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A service of this newsletter is to provide news summaries and/or snippets to readers. In such instances articles and/or snippets will be reprinted as they are received from the originating party or as they are displayed on the originating website or in the original article. As we do not write the news, we merely point readers to it, under no circumstance shall Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein be liable to the user and/or any third party for any lost profits or lost opportunity, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, or punitive damages whatsoever due to the distribution of said news articles or snippets that lead readers to a full article on a news service's website, even if Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Authors of the original news story and their publications shall be exclusively held liable. Any corrections to news stories are not mandatory and shall be printed at the discretion of the list moderator after evaluation on a case-by-case basis.

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