Preserving America’s Food Supply Powered By Essential Employees

Challenge: Smithfield Foods was in the center of the COVID-19 storm when they were struggling to keep essential employees showing up to work and targeted by misinformed public criticism that was threatening the operations that were keeping America’s food supply available.

Approach: Employees are influenced “from the outside in,” so educating external stakeholders about the importance of food supply and Smithfield’s efforts to keep people safe and food available, as well as ensuring employees feel recognized for their work was critical.

Action:

  • Educated employees through a dedicated online and mobile resources, and visual communications such as executive video and infographic series reinforcing and translating policies
  • Defended Smithfield’s reputation and pandemic response with a targeted media campaign and ad and social campaigns to educate stakeholders and correct misinformation publicly
  • Celebrated essential workers as heroes of the pandemic with internal and external creative campaign

Impact:

  • Lowered rate of cases at Smithfield to a fraction of one percent
  • Maintained attendance rates sufficient to ensure food supply production, despite 50% of employees out on leave at some point
  • WSJ editorialized the effectiveness of Smithfield’s response, echoing the importance of food workers to our food supply and economy
  • Groups including unions, NGO’s and employee advocacy groups praised Smithfield as the “bellwether” for the industry