Idag är det världspremiär för det första skandinaviska mejeriföretaget som bloggar internationellt. Arla Foods förklarar det med att muhammedkarikatyrerna tvingat bolaget att försvara sig mot islam. Speciellt Profeten Muhammed med bomb i turban har fått den muslimska världen att slå tillbaka mot Arlas mejeriprodukter i Mellanöstern. Bland annat av dessa skäl startas nu en blogg för att förklara för muslimer vilken inställning Arla har:
Arla Foods, Europe’s largest dairy company is the first major Scandinavian company to start blogging externally."
"Reasons for Blogging
Arla Foods’ corporate blogging is aimed at building long-term relationships by providing a human face to its consumers. Their blogs also wish to present their qualifications in the specific industry they’re in. In the middle of much criticism in Denmark, blogging is a courageous but a logical step to take in countering bad press.
Aside from having to defend itself against accusations of crushing small diary companies in their native home, Arla Foods had to face the widespread boycotts in the Middle East over the Danish caricatures of Prophet Mohammad. The drawings which were published in a Danish newspaper depicted an image of the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. Islamic traditions prohibit any depiction of the prophet including respectful ones to prevent the use of such images that would lead to idolatry. The offended parties demanded an apology from the Danish government.
The Danish government stood its ground that the issue is primarily on freedom of the press, but Arla Foods was in a more difficult position as it felt the full force of the appeal for a trade boycott of Danish products. Its sales plummeted to zero and it had to lay-off as much as 100 people because of the inexistent demand. For a company that had annual sales as high as $480 million in the area, Arla Foods certainly felt the pressure.
The company has spent over 40 years to build a big business in the Middle East and is not about to give up easily in the face of such a challenge. They have been able to gain an intimate knowledge of the market and have managed to provide their co-operative members a stable income in the process. It came as a shock to see such a big business entity come to a complete stop in all the countries in the region.
The paper that published the said caricatures has already apologized for offending many Muslims even if it were not in violation of any Danish law. The Danish government welcomed this act but reiterated that independent media is not edited by the government and thus it cannot apologize in behalf of the newspaper. The general situation was not positive as the backlash included diplomatic sanctions and Islamic militant attacks and threats.
Arla Foods was seen by many, especially the Danes to have bended its knees too quickly to the offended parties. When it was announced that the boycott of Danish products was to come to an end in a conference attended by Muslim clerics and representatives of Arla, it was widely perceived as a deal that signaled the victory of thuggery and extortion over free speech. The end of the problem in the Middle East was the start of a new problem in Denmark.
The company’s websites refer to this move as an active marketing approach. Arla Foods facilitated the printing of the Danish government’s official statement indicating its respect for Islam in a Saudi newspaper. It was followed by a full page advertisement in 25 countries all over the region stating the company’s understanding of the region’s culture and values as well as Islam. Arla Foods has also offered to start humanitarian projects in the Middle East including helping disabled children and cancer sufferers. The company’s move is quite understandable if the business aspect is to be considered. However, altering public perception may need to be given serious attention.
Blogging at Present
In the face of heavy criticism for supposedly trying to appease Muslim fundamentalists, Arla Foods had to find a way to air its side. After successfully putting an end to a boycott in the Middle East region, the threat of the Danish public’s boycotting of Arla products remain. It should be noted that the multinational company has long been criticized and boycotted in Denmark because of their supposed abuse of their dominant market position. They are being accused of trying to eradicate smaller and more ecologically minded dairies and small farmers in Denmark."
Källa, The Arla Foods blog premiärdagen fredag 6 november 2009: