Bad PR call earns Eataly criticism after internal emails surface

The company faced backlash for recent controversial messaging, and took the advice of its crisis communications team to ignore a customer’s complaint—in emails the customer received.

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PR pros, ignore customer complaints at your own risk.

After serving up controversial marketing messages—and consulting with its crisis PR agency—Eataly decided to not respond to a consumer’s criticism regarding a risqué marketing campaign.

Unfortunately, the offended customer was copied on the internal email chain that carried the directive.

The Chicago Tribune reported:

Lawyer Brittany Pape wrote to Eataly on Dec. 20, complaining that a wine ad displayed at the Chicago store that urged customers to “BRING HOME AN ITALIAN. GREAT LEGS, BETTER BODY” was “tone deaf” considering the sexual misconduct allegations against Eataly partner Mario Batali. Batali subsequently issued an apology, The New York Times reported.

Pape, who is of Italian descent (“My dog is called Cannoli,” she told Chicago Inc.), asked for the offensive ad to be removed, describing it in her emailed complaint as the kind of thing “said by Mario Batali at a work holiday party.”

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