In what seemed to be a surefire way to buy badwill, Dole Foods filed a lawsuit against the documentary filmmaker Fredrik Gertten because the documentary Bananas* 'contained falsehoods which harmed the US food giant.'
As soon as word got out, Max Hamburgers - an all Swedish burger chain that serves healthier burgers and always offers bean salad and fruit snacks in the kids meals - decided to stop serving Dole anything in retaliation for the suit. “We don’t like Dole’s actions. Suing a filmmaker instead of having a dialogue is despicable" said Max CEO Richard Bergfors in several interviews basking in the PR they got from that move. Soon enough Swedish grocers joined in, with ICA and Axfood the largest supermarket chains demanding talks with Dole as they no longer wanted to keep Dole products in the stores. Local ICA stores, like mine, boldly moved all Dole products back into the stockroom at customers request, so for a while I couldn't find Dole Food products anywhere. The Bananas* film was written up in every newspaper as it was aired on SVT (Swedens State Television) and in the space of one week, it went from perfectly normal to wildly anti-social if you had a dole-branded banana in your kids lunchbox.
Now the Local reports that Dole drops Bananas!* lawsuit.
While Dole said it believed it had a strong case, it chose to dismiss the suit because of “the free speech concerns being expressed in Sweden”.
The company maintained, however, that the film was inaccurate.
“While the filmmakers continue to show a film that is fundamentally flawed and contains many false statements we look forward to an open discussion with the filmmakers regarding the content of the film,” C. Michael Carter, Dole’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, said in a statement.