The Bodam Bottling Company, based in Sheffield, is the principal bottler of Fresh-Light drinks. Founded by Richard H. Bodam in 1956, Bodam was a family-owned business until last year, when the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange. In the first six months Bodam shares rose 24%; afterwards, the price levelled off. Since the beginning of the month, Bodam shares have skyrocketed after it was disclosed that Fresh-Light is now in the final stages of acquiring Bodam. Bodam produces 1.3 million beverage cans a day for the British market. It has 312 employees, including 48 on the production line. If the deal goes through, some 75 staff may lose their jobs.
You are Marilyn Simpson, director of public affairs at Bodam. You only joined the company in September after completing a postgraduate programme in Business Communication at the University of Durham. This is your first job.
On Thursday, June 10, at about noon, you get a call from Channel 4: the station has heard that customers have found a syringe in a can Fresh-Light Micro Diet and they want a Bodam spokesperson to be interviewed by reporter John Williams, on camera, in about 2 hours.
Apparently, Sarah and Francis David have said they have found what appeared to be a used hypodermic syringe in a Fresh-Light Micro Diet can after drinking its contents. The can was part of a twelve-pack. They are afraid that the needle might have been contaminated and believe that it is important to warn the public that 'somebody' may be intentionally placing syringes into the soft-drink cans. The can that the Davids possess was bottled on April 7.
The Davids, in their 80s and said to be very devout Christians, are especially credible: neighbours have compared them to the Pope. In their first televised interview on breakfast TV the same morning they said the presence of the syringe in the can made them worry about AIDS.
You assemble a crisis team. Since your CEO Leona Syferd is away on a business trip in Los Angeles, you have to chair the meeting.