3M has not had very much controversy, which I found to be a little surprising. I know they try had to maintain the image that their brand is concerned about the environment and takes steps to keep it safe. I think this is a good idea, since they are a big manufacturing business and plastics are made from oil. There was one instance though where 3M faced some controversy revolving around pollution violations.
A Minnesota 3M wanted to start a pollution incinerator that would help to burn the waste created from other companies and factories. Although the incinerator for 3M had been in use for almost 40 years, since it started in 1971, controversy started when the company announced they wanted to burn waste from other companies besides their own. 3M said it would save natural gas and save the company money, about 2 million dollars per year, to burn other companies around the globe.
Naturally, the town where this was going to happen was not very excited about having their town turned into a worldwide dump and protested it. After a lot of testing and public meetings, it was decided that it was in fact all right for 3M to be an incinerator for other companies. 3M does have a permit that prohibits the amount of pollution created by their incinerator.
There were some other smaller cases of public controversy, mostly centered around having too much pollution. They were fined 95,000 dollars in 1988 then 1.5 million dollars a year later for exceeding pollution levels with their factories.
I think it is important for a company to be open and transparent, and not try to cover anything up because it will make whatever the situation is a bigger deal that what it would have been in the first place.
I believe that companies cannot keep secrets as well with Internet now. Many scandals get ousted in this way. Some examples include Nike, where it was revealed that their shoes were made in sweatshops in extremely poor conditions in foreign countries.
The aspect about these kinds of controversies that I find interesting is that while of course it is bad for the company and their brand image, a lot of their consumers still keep buying their products for the most part. Is this because the product is more important than what the company does?
A book we are reading in Integrated Marketing and Communications says that consumers and businesses are in the relationship era. This means that it is more about the relationship with the company than what the product is. I think this is true relating to how an organization does their marketing and branding, and explains the impact of scandals on businesses.
Bensen, L. (2007, April 25) Citizens’ board gives 3M a victory in chemical controversy. MPR News. Retrieved from http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/04/24/pcacitboard
Shaw, B. (2012, May 5). Controversy flares over 3M incinerator
Twin Cities.com Pioneer Press. Retrieved from