Good for Centerplate. Today, they announced the resignation of their former CEO Des Hague after video surfaced of him abusing a dog placed in his care. The video came to light in August and the company found itself the object of scorn among many patrons of the sports where it provides food services. But the company did the right thing. First, placing Hague on “indefinite probation” and then sending out a statement that condemned what he did. They also demanded that he personally give a $100,000 donation to establish the Sade Foundation in honor of the dog he mistreated. Hague is also expected to serve 1,000 hours of community service at an animal welfare organization and may face potential criminal charges and fines in Canada. Today, I was asked by the Stamford Advocate for my thoughts on the issue. Here’s what reporter Olivia Just wrote in the piece:
Centerplate’s swift distancing from Hague was a shrewd public relations move, said Andrea Obston, president of Andrea Obston Marketing Communications. Obston teaches public relations at Quinnipiac University and watches the disaster recovery strategies of companies like Centerplate closely, she said. “They took a very assertive and aggressive stance against the issue,” Obston said. “It’s very good for your reputation. It’s a matter of making good on a declaration and then you move on.”
It is easier for a company to move past a crisis with its leadership when the executive’s misconduct is personal and unconnected to the way the company has functioned, Obston said. It will be harder to Hague himself to rehabilitate his public standing.
“He personally needs to make assertive efforts toward realizing that what he did was wrong and demonstrate it,” Obston said. “He’s going to be a hard, hard guy to employ over the next few years because no one wants to inherit that negative baggage.”
The bottom line is that Centerplate took the high road, distancing itself for the reprehensible actions of its CEO. We expect the crisis of confidence created by his appalling actions to die down quickly. They did the right thing – ethically and financially.