Categories: Crisis management / Media issues

23 March 2010


Message to Nestlé – stay corporate on SM

Greenpeace has forced a tantrum out of Nestlé. Under pressure Nestlé broke the golden rule corporates must obey on social media platforms – never get personal.

From the Catholic Church to Nestlé, famously troubled for years over its alternatives to mother’s milk. Synchronicity, man (new readers go here).

This time, the firm has tangled with the Rainbow Warriors rather than feminists.

The story started when Greenpeace posted a video on YouTube (view it here) that attacked Nestlé’s use of supposedly unsustainably sourced Indonesian palm oil in its products. The video showed a man unwrapping an orang-utans’s finger from his Kit Kat snack. As he eats it he gets blood all over his face and desk.

Nestlé had YouTube take down the video because it breached copyright (perhaps also because they didn’t like the message). Greenpeace then alerted the media about the ban. That provoked a mob to descend on Nestlé’s Facebook homepage.  Some of the comments they left there were offensive:

“If you or I were to kill a person we’d be put in jail. Nestle has killed tens of thousands of people and it’s just considered a part and parcel of the job. Nestle has killed more people then most terriorists! But that’s okay, people need Nestle products.”

I imagine the blogger was harking back to the baby milk saga.

In response to such tosh, somebody at Nestlé lost their cool, started pointing out spelling mistakes and became sarcastic:

“So, let’s see, we have to be well-mannered all the time but it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to us as everything from idiots right the way down to sons of Satan?”

The answer to Nestlé’s question is yes, you’ve got to take it. If Nestlé wants a presence on SM it must rise above the crowd. Having entered the lion’s den and opened up its Facebook page to all comers, Nestlé has to behave in a restrained and corporate-like fashion if it wants to hang on to its reputation (see some of the damage here here here).

Here’s the thing: Social Media (SM) maybe sado-masochism for the individuals who trade prejudices and insults on the web. It’s mostly masochism for corporates.

2 responses to “Message to Nestlé – stay corporate on SM”

  1. LSM says:

    While I agree with a large portion of this post, I do not think major corporations today can afford to not have a social media presence. That’s old-school and more importantly it won’t help the corporation’s case because while the protest groups are whipping people into a frenzy online the corporation will have no inkling of the trouble it’s in and will take much longer to respond appropriately (appropriately being the keyword here). What corporations need to do is to learn how to respond to an online PR crisis and hiring a Pro to manage their online PR ops is the first step.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jennifer Scroggins and paulseaman, Anja Hoffmann. Anja Hoffmann said: A great biz case in "not to do" on SM. Be authentic and create new biz! […]