Nestle offends the people of Azerbaijan

The BBC news carried a piece last week about how Swiss company Nestle had “deeply offended” the people of Azerbaijan with a recent marketing campaign aimed at selling cereal to the Azeri people.

As part of this campaign, Nestle attached a CD-ROM to cereal boxes that contained information about the countries of the world. The piece in the CD about Azerbaijan said the central-Asian country started a war with its neighbor Armenia over a hotly contested strip of land called Nagorno-Karabakh.

That conflict has killed more than 30,000 people since the 1990s and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Being reminded of this black spot in their history — on a cereal box –outraged the Azeris. Swiss-based Nestle has apologized for the goof and recalled the CDs.

The thing is, I have been all over the Nestle website and there is NOTHING on the site acknowledging this issue. Except for the apology, which I have only heard about and not seen…Nestle is ignoring the blogosphere and it’s global audience. If they had put something on their site and let all of us know that that they have apologized, that they are making this right …it would be a good thing. Then, bloggers could point to the text of the apology and that this is being taken seriously. And while their first priority should acknowledging and apologizing to the people of Azerbaijan, they should also be thinking about consumers worldwide who want to know what they have done to make this right.

Another minor embarrassment for the company with this issue … last year at an International Association of Business Communicators conference in New Orleans, Tengku Marina Badlishah, a Nestle rep, sat on a panel titled, “Avoiding Costly Mistakes in Asian Markets.”

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