5-Hour Energy Shot CEO Fails to Communicate with the 5 Cs of Communication

Blog Post By: PaKou Lee
Living Essentials, the maker of the popular 5-Hour Energy shot is in a crisis. The Food and Drug Administration have received 13 death reports linked to the 2 oz. 5-Hour Energy shot within the last four years. Currently, they are under investigation by the federal government. There is no actual evidence that proves the 5-Hour Energy shot caused any of the 13 deaths, but many concerns and questions have surfaced.
Click here to watch the interview:
CBS News correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook interviewed Manoj Bhargava, the founder and CEO of 5-Hour Energy about the concerns of the 5-Hour Energy shot. In the interview, Bhargava failed to present the 5 Cs of effective communication: concern, clarity, control, confidence, and competence. Here’s why:

  • Concern: Not once during the interview did Bhargava express any sympathy for the 13 deaths that were linked to his product. Although there is no actual evidence that his product caused the deaths, he still needs to display emotion because it shows that he has compassion.
  • Clarity: Bhargava’s reason for not labeling the amount of caffeine in the bottle because “people wouldn’t understand it” was confusing. He was also not clear about the demographics of his consumers. And while he gave a few numbers and percentages, he did not provide enough data or evidence support his answers.
  • Control: Bhargava does not have control of this crisis. He came unprepared and took no responsibility. He failed to present a plan and a possible solution.
  • Confidence: Bhargava continued to stand by his product and put blame and excuses on other products such as coffee, peanuts, and Monster energy drink. He became defensive when Dr. LaPook talked more in depth about the effects of caffeine and 5-hour energy shot vs. a cup of coffee.
  • Competence: It’s likely that Bhargava lost credibility in the eyes of consumers because he appeared to lack information about his own product. He was unsure of his product’s ingredients and also declined to say how many milligrams of caffeine were in one bottle.

Crises happen all the time, but it’s how a company responds that determines their success or failure. Here is what you can learn from Bhargava’s mistakes:

  • Consistently scan and monitor for crises.
  • Contain the crisis by following the company’s crisis management plan. If there isn’t a plan, develop one.
  • Conduct follow up with both external and internal audiences.
  • Measure the effectiveness, and learn from it.