Faaez Samadi
Oct 12, 2016

Samsung kills off Note7

Updated: Company has now confirmed it will permanently end production.

(source: YouTube)
(source: YouTube)

After Monday's news that Samsung had temporarily halted production of the Galaxy Note7, and yesterday's statement that it had banned all sales and asked consumers to stop using the device, the electronic maker confirmed late Tuesday that it would end production of the device altogether.

“Putting consumer safety as the top priority, we have reached a final decision to halt production of Galaxy Note7s,” a company statement said.

The move follows the apparent failure of Samsung’s exchange programme for the faulty Galaxy Note7, an attempt to address critical customer complaints that the handsets were catching fire.

The exchange allowed consumers to trade in faulty devices for new, safe ones, and Samsung's swift reaction was praised at the time as "an exercise in 'bold and brilliant' crisis management".

However, numerous reports of incidents, particularly from the US, have involved already exchanged devices, with one event leading to the evacuation of an airplane.

In a mark of how serious the problem is, Samsung yesterday had taken the extraordinary step of urging consumers to turn off their Galaxy Note7s. The company has also apparently started providing fireproof boxes for consumers to return the devices.

“Consumers with either an original Galaxy Note7 or replacement Galaxy Note7 device should power down and stop using the device,” Samsung said in an earlier statement.

Charles Lankester, senior vice president for crisis management at Ruder Finn Asia, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the crisis has evolved further and faster than many could have predicted, and that Samsung’s initial response with the recall was the right strategy, for that point in time. 

"Samsung’s decisions three weeks ago were in the context of an environment that was 180-degrees different to today,” he said. “This is the very paradox of crisis ‘management’: Smart decisions can look like stupid decisions based on new events or intelligence. Hindsight is always the brightest light. I would still argue that Samsung is doing many things right, but the business tidal wave they are experiencing would have engulfed many, if not most, corporations.”

Lankester added that there is undoubtedly a “blame game” now taking place, and management changes at Samsung can be expected in the future.

“Samsung will emerge from this one way or another," he said. "But one takeaway for anyone in business from this crisis? Don’t limit your thinking in terms of scenario planning. I doubt anyone advised the Samsung board to scenario plan and prepare for the Note7 to a) burst into flames, b) go through a global recall, c) be banned from flights and d) see production halted in October 2016. They should have.”

Estimates suggest killing off the Galaxy Note7 entirely could cost Samsung more than US$10 billion, and reports this morning say the company has lost US$14 billion in share value.

In addition, although Samsung has told consumers to “take advantage of the remedies available,” many feel they have received little guidance over what the next steps are for Galaxy Note7 owners. Many feel outraged at having twice been supplied with a combustible smartphone, but not having a clear recourse for solving the issue.

So far, only Samsung Canada has issued clear instructions to consumers, according to Mobile Syrup, which received a statement offering a full refund and hotline to call. This afternoon, reports emerged that authorities in Hong Kong are pressing the company, on behalf of frustrated consumers, to define return and refund procedures.

Recalling big recalls

Samsung now faces an unprecedented challenge to its brand reputation. Here are some other relatively recent examples of safety-related product issues and the impact they had on the companies involved.

2015

Lead-fears hammer Maggi in India
After over 30 years as one of India’s favorite noodle brands, Maggi is pulled from the shelves.

Brands pour money into food safety
As brands get called out for food that doesn’t make the grade, firms in Asia must improve processes to win confidence.

2014

Tainted milk leaves a bad taste for NZ
Contamination scandals are affecting not only Fonterra, but the New Zealand brand itself, which relies on its image of pure untrammeled beauty for tourism and trade.

McPR fail: McDonald's HK squanders trust with mishandling of bad-meat crisis
Like its peers, McDonald's might be seen as a victim in the expired-meat saga that began last week in China. But in Hong Kong, the company violated several rules from the crisis-management playbook and will now have to rebuild its image.

McDonald’s, KFC will struggle to regain trust after expired-meat scandal
PR experts from the region weigh in on how the fast-food giants can regain trust after a TV sting revealed expired meat in their supply chains.

2013

Other brands will suffer Kanebo’s blemish: Experts
Japanese cosmetic brand Kanebo likely won't be the only skincare brand to suffer following a series of product recalls over allegations of skin damage from the use of whitening products.

J&J India needs decisive response to safety concerns: Branding consultant
Johnson & Johnson, the multinational manufacturer of pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods, lost its license to make cosmetics at a plant outside Mumbai last week, but has made no response beyond a simple statement.

2012

KFC falls victim to 'fowl play', needs internal audits more than PR
No amount of simple public relations can solve KFC's questionable-food crisis, which has been too long-drawn and requires the brand to fix its less-than-exemplary supply chain process, industry commentators say.

 

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