Hale and Hearty Customers Steamed Over Email Newsletter

Poor Hale and Hearty. The New York City soup chain’s team woke up this morning to a PR disaster: someone sent a newsletter containing a certain C-word to all of the company’s email subscribers.

The email begins with an odd reference to the 2008 opening of a Livingston, NJ, location, but it all quickly goes downhill like a volcanic mud slide from there. Gothamist provides the full text (emphasis ours):

“On Wednesday, January 30, 2008 we will celebrate the opening of our Livingston, NJ location by inviting all our loyal Hale and Hearty customers as well as your friends and family to enjoy a free cup of soup at our newest location at 464 West Mount Pleasant Avenue, Livingston, NJ. As an added bonus: Mary- you know the cunt from 47th street- will serve you personally in any manner you choose. so cum one and all to our new location at 464 West Mount Pleasant Avenue, Livingston, NJ.”

With all of the competition and noise online, it is difficult to build a following of customers who volunteer to receive a brand’s promotions in their already crowded inboxes. So when PR goes awry with those loyal customers, all brands can do is apologize (which Hale and Hearty did, of course), hope their customers understand, then go home and pour a strong scotch. If you’re Mary, several of those scotches may be in order. Ouch.

Nevertheless, there is a PR lesson in every debacle. What we can all learn from Hale and Hearty today is not to take passwords for granted. With so many of our PR efforts tied into online campaigns, it’s imperative to limit access to those channels. Change your passwords, folks. Like now.

Also, there was a day when bad news was delivered via phone calls at odd hours of the night. For brands and public figures today, that bad news will most likely arrive via Twitter—for the whole world to see. It’s just a sign of our times, and PR professionals know that a vigilant damage control strategy should be within reach of everyone involved in image management. Hale and Hearty learned this the hard way.

And so did Mary.