When A Brand Is Attacked – A Live Case Study

Being attacked publicly is one of the main concerns that we hear when we speak with new clients about the potential of using social media as a part of their communications efforts. This is a valid concern and one that needs to be addressed, especially for those organizations that have outspoken critics—critics that understand and use social media and other PR tactics.

The challenge that Nestlé is facing is in the use of palm oil in their products. As we understand it, the oil is harvested from the rainforests of Indonesia.

You only have to read a few comments on its Facebook page to see that people are angry with Nestlé and while the challenge began with a video about Kit Kat put out by Greenpeace, it escalated into something that has now taken on a life of its own.

The fact is, Nestlé was on Facebook reaching out to connect with fans of its brand. The people at Nestlé were trying to be proactive and positive and connect with its community. Then Greenpeace came out with a pretty disturbing video.

Here is where everything went sideways as far as the brand. Nestlé turned into “that” company. Citing copyright, they had the video pulled. That then gave Greenpeace a great deal of ammunition to go out to people and cry censorship, which moved through social media challenges at the speed of light.

Simon Houpt has a great piece in The Globe and Mail that describes what happened and how, had Nestlé not responded with the strong arm of control, very few people would have probably even seen the video.

Now, hundreds of thousand, if not millions have seen the video, and Nestlé’s Facebook page is full of negative comments. Nestlé has created a PR nightmare for their brand in both traditional media and social media. All because they reverted to an old way of thinking—fight the critics, maintain control, don’t let the people who buy our products see this negative video… Control. Control. Control. It’s a no win approach.

I know this may sound like Monday morning quarterbacking, but there was a very different way to approach this issue. The world has changed and as an organization, you have to accept that and adjust how you interact with your supporters and the people and organizations that criticize you.  Or you will end up in a situation like the one that Nestlé currently finds itself in.

Want to know how they could have approached this situation? Send us an email and I’ll buy you a coffee and tell you.

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