Is This the Most Brazen Brand Turnaround Ever Attempted?
December 18, 2013 ‐ 2 comments


Imagine this scenario: your brand is associated with food safety crimes that killed 6 infants, caused over 50,000 more to be hospitalized and harmed around 300,000 children overall. One of your executives was sentenced to life in prison and two associated persons were executed as a result of crimes and negligence. Fines and scandal drove your company into bankruptcy.

Fellow business leaders and marketers: What would you do?

It's not a hypothetical. That brand is Sanlu, the company behind the 2008 Chinese baby milk scandal. When Sanlu went bankrupt the name and logo were purchased by a firm now called Zhejiang Sanlu. And apparently what the company's executives believe you do is:

1. Lay low for a few years.
2. Relaunch the brand in an adjacent category.

We kid you not loyal readers. The Sanlu brand, abhorred by consumers throughout the world's most populous country, is being relaunched as a line of organic noodles.

Sanlu Organic Buckwheat Noodles

Typically, we might comment on the company's 'Natural Taste' tagline and its lack of distinction. Or on the poorly-written  English version of their website. Or on deciding to call their toll-free corporate number the "Delicious Hotline." But these blunders pale in comparison to the sheer chutzpah of bringing this brand back to market.

It is, to put it charitably, an audacious move. So audacious, in fact, that the only people braver than the ones relaunching this brand are the people who dare to try its noodles.

Tell your friends:
December 20, 2013 8:35 am
That is disturbing. The saddest part, I imagine, is that this will prey on poorly informed Chinese citizens, in a country where the press is not always held to the highest standards of accuracy. Not exactly the same, but I do think the BASF "turnaround" is similarly shocking--perhaps more so. The company's history is convoluted (lots of mergers, divestitures, etc.), but the brand existed both before and after WWII, during which at least part of the company used slave labor in concentration camps and played a role in manufacturing the poison gas used in Holocaust gas chambers. And yet, the brand lives on, creating "innovative, sustainable solutions that enhance the quality of life today and in the future," and with values like "Responsible." The history section of the BASF website is surprisingly detailed (, even mentioning Nazis and Hitler by name (wonder what that does for SEO!). Yet, Zyklon B (the poison gas in question) is never mentioned at all, and a lot of the copy is written to make BASF sound more like a powerless victim of the times than a key contributor to genocidal war.
M freeze
December 19, 2013 7:16 am
Omg! Thanks for letting me know. This truly frightening.

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