Thursday, December 14, 2006

Turning a bad situation around

The scandal surrounding the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko erupted on November 1st and over the next three weeks the drama unfolded as places that Mr Litvinenko had visited before he was hospitalised were checked for traces of the radiation he had been poisoned with.

Itsu, a sushi chain in London, was one such place. Alexander Litvinenko ate at the restaurant before being admitted to hospital. Following a check, traces of Polonium 210, the radiation used to poison Mr Litvinenko, was found at the store in Piccadilly, Soho. The store therefore had to be closed for a clean-up operation and is now police protected. Staff who could have potentially picked up a dose of the radiation have all now been tested however and luckily have been given the all clear. The restaurant is set to re-open now in the New Year.

But, what is the company to do in the meantime? Having police stationed outside your radioactive restaurant is not the best publicity a company could wish for. Instead of lying down to the unfortunate situation however, Itsu have had some fun with the hoardings which have had to be placed outside their store.

Realising that the worst is now over, the company have erected a James Bond-inspired hoarding outside the Piccadilly restaurant. Incorporating the famous gun barrel motif, Friday’s message read ‘An international espionage incident has transformed this Itsu into a world-famous meeting place,’ ‘Sad and shocked, we would like to thank you for the many e-mails of encouragement. Our customers and staff are magnificent.’

Itsu operations manager Glenn Edwards explained that the hoardings, designed in-house, have been a spontaneous response to the situation. He added that ‘What has happened is very sad, but we want to let people know that we will be open for business in the New Year,’ ‘It’s been a crazy few weeks.’

Now, that’s an example of how to turn around a disastrous situation for your company. Let Itsu be a lesson. You can’t control outside events, but you can respond to them in a controlled and clever manner. By responding well in fact, you may even be able to attract better awareness and more sales than before. I certainly had never heard of Itsu before, but if I’m visiting Piccadilly any time soon, I might just head in for a bite to eat…



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