The agency is handling the corporate comms for Premier Foods, the manufacturer of the curry sauce, after two people in Scotland became seriously ill with botulism after eating a Loyd Grossman korma sauce.
Yesterday, Premier Foods announced a product recall for a ‘specific batch’ of the product as a ‘precautionary measure’ following an isolated incident linked to a specific jar.
In a statement, the food giant added that it was ‘working urgently with the authorities to investigate this incident’ and emphasised that ‘no other Loyd Grossman sauces or products are involved'.
Maitland partner Brian Hudspith confirmed that the agency was working on the Loyd Grossman sauce crisis, but was unavailable to comment further.
In August, Premier Foods retained Maitland after a competitive pitch to help turn the firm's City image around.
The Premier Foods account team is headed by Maitland CEO Neil Bennett, with partners Emma Burdett and Hudspith leading on investor relations and corporate comms respectively.
Insignia Communications founder Jonathan Hemus said that the crisis is ‘more challenging’ than the average product recall.
‘Firstly, the fact that the brand features a well known personality creates greater media interest and makes it a bigger story,’ said Hemus. ‘Crises thrive on human interest and the Loyd Grossman association provides a second angle in addition to the fate of the hospitalised children.’
Hemus added that Premier Foods’ ‘fragile financial health’ makes it more vulnerable to a high-profile crisis.
‘Organisations with a strong reputation and a sound business can weather a crisis so long as they manage it well. But a weak organisation can be pushed over the edge by a mishandled crisis,’ he said.
In April this year, Premier Foods consolidated its consumer brand PR portfolio with Ketchum Pleon following a five-way pitch for its seven-figure account.