Panera Apologizes to Farmers

Panera's campaign to tout the benefits of its chicken inadvertently offended an important, vocal group: farmers. Panera posted a video and started the Twitter hashtag #EZChicken to promote its chicken, which is produced without antibiotics.

The description on YouTube transcribes the video:

"At Panera, we decided a long time ago to avoid the easy road and switch to Antibiotic-free chicken. That decision set a lot of things in motion, so now it's not just chickens raised this way, it is more ingredients you can trust, which has taught us a lesson. Sometimes, what you think is the harder road, turns out to be the only one worth being on. Panera Bread. Live Consciously, Eat Deliciously."

Dairy Carrie, a farmer with an active blog, chronicled Panera's campaign, including several memes showing chickens as pills.

Panera EZChicken Meme

Farmers didn't appreciate Panera's implication that they take the easy way out. Dairy Carries writes on her blog,

"But wait you say, Panera isn't calling all farmers and ranchers lazy! They are just calling the ones that use antibiotics lazy! I used antibiotics to help a sick calf get better last week, my friends the organic farmers had a cow with pneumonia and they gave that cow antibiotics to make her better. They had to sell her, but she lived. Does that mean we are lazy? Is it lazy to take care of our sick animals?"

A company representative did call Dairy Carrie, and a representative apologized to others on Twitter:

Panera EZChicken

Twitter image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • Explain the disconnect between Panera's promotion and farmers' perspective. Describe the view from each group.
  • Should Panera have predicted this reaction from farmers? How so or why not? Should the company have avoided the campaign or have approached it in another way?