Danske Banks Crisis Communication During the Money Laundering Scandal

Simon Jaconelli Johansen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In this paper I explore how Danske Bank communicated during the money laundering scandal of 2018. To further expand on the impact that Danske Banks communication had I also included an analysis of the sentiments on Danske Banks Facebook during the scandal. My research question is: How did Danske Banks handle the money laundering scandal of 2018? To answer this question I posted two sub-questions to help guide my research: How did Danske Bank communicate during the crisis? And how did the consumers react during the crisis? To answer the first question, I looked at the press releases published by Danske Bank during a period of almost two years from 2017-2019. Press releases was chosen as the empirical evidence for this question, since they represent the official statements from a company, and also since the information posted in these releases serves as the basis of many news reports by third parties in the media world. To further expand on what was actually in the press release I used Benoit, Coombs and Johansen & Frandsen’s theory to build a model of analysis which looked at the strategy of the press release by comparing them the Crisis Response Strategies by Coombs and the Image-Restoration Strategies by Benoit. To elaborate on how these strategies was actualized I also included an element of the press releases rhetoric in my model of analysis. The results of this analyze showed that Danske Bank used a variety of strategies during the period. They mainly focused on presenting corrective actions to avoid more money laundering in the future, and also all the positive things Danske Bank had done previously. When Danske Bank presented the magnitude of money laundering scandal on the 19. September 2018, they selected to use more defensive strategies in their communication by focusing on removing the responsible employees. Danske Banks communication followed the standard of effective communication during a fraud crisis. The second part was based on a sentiment analysis of Danske Bank's Facebook profile. Here, 7276 comments were analyzed during the period 01/02/2018-31/01/2019 through a lexicon-based sentimental analysis. The sentiment analysis showed a more positive sentiment than expected towards Danske Bank. Via a conclusion that Danske Bank communicated effectively through their press releases and the sentiment level on Facebook was more positive than expected, it must be concluded that Danske Bank's communicative handling of the money laundering was good and thus probably influenced consumer sentiment.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages119