Before Nestlé case... 9 May 2008 - Greenpeaces forests campaigners meet Unilever senior executives. Greenpeace launch a viral video called ‘Dove Onslaught(er)’. In just two weeks Unilever receive tens of thousands of protest emails from around the world, because Greenpeace activists brought masses of news media to their buildings in the UK, Netherlands and Italy. Public pressure moves Unilever to react. (1)The campaign was designed to stop the palm oil industry from destroying theParadise Forests, and ensuring the protection of the climate and a future fororang-utans.
‘If others in the palm oil industry are smart, theyll followUnilevers lead. Theres no excuse for wasting time now, so any industry slow-learners could be our next campaign target.’ (Greenpeace, 2009)
Give orang-utan a break! 17 March 2010 – Greenpeace publishes ‘Caught Red-handed’ report. Greenpeace state they have new evidence which shows that Nestlé are using palm oil produced in areas where the orang-utans rainforests once grew. 17 March 2010 – Greenpeace posts on YouTube a viral video ‘Kit Kat – give the orang-utan a break’. Nestlé demands video to be removed due to copyright violation. The Video is then posted on Vimeo.
Give orang-utan a break! Nestlé receives 200,000 emails, hundreds of phone calls Nestlé struggles to respond to bombardment of criticism from angry consumers on Twitter and its official Facebook page. This is Social Media Crisis
Social media crisis Members of the public have gone to social media sites to criticise the company, following reports that it is continuing to source palm oil from Sinar Mas, an Indonesian company accused of illegal deforestation of rainforests. On Twitter, the firm has been bombarded with critical comments. Users have been tweeting Nestles Facebook page and encouraging people to go on to see the comments posted online. Consumers on Facebook accused the company of ‘hiding behind PR spin, calling the companys response to the criticism a ‘major social media fail. (3)
Nestle’s PR solutions Official press release was published on the day of report from Greenpeace The company initially tried to respond on Facebook (not successful, rude and not tackling the issue) The company demanded to take off the video, threatened to remove pictures of the ‘new’ KitKat logo The demands from Greenpeace were fulfilled in May 2010: Nestlé developed a plan to identify and remove any companies in their supply chain with links to deforestation, including Sinar Mas group.
Effectiveness of these solutions The official press release gave an official source for customers and press to quote and refer to (the contact details were provided, Nestlé seemed to be open for discussions) However, inability to talk directly to customers developed rage and worsened the issue leading to even more comments and retweets
Crisis Nestlé’s crisis was ‘simmering’. ‘Simmering events cover situations that lurk beneath the organizations surface and can erupt into a crisis at any time (Ruff & Aziz, p.3). ‘Crisis, in reality is much more likely to be predictable and expected’ (Ruff & Aziz, p.3).Nestlé should have been prepared considering the experience ofUnilever.
Crisis management The key to crisis management is being prepared Goals of crisis communication: 1. terminate the crisis quickly 2. limit the damage 3. restore credibility Be prepared. Be available. Be credible. Act appropriately. (Seitel, p.406)
Nestlé’s key issues Nestlé was not prepared. As a result - bad crisis management Inability to interact with the public efficiently The Facebook responses attacked the users and concentrated on copyright violation rather than on the issue Threats of removing pictures and comments are not permitted! Company did not take the issue seriously
Where else did Nestlé fail? ‘Someone within Nestlé is also responding to posts, but they are not corporate in tone and are juvenile. The company should be tailoring its response more to the environment with a more human tone.‘ ‘The person responding for Nestlé seems to be junior. In future they need look at the person who is responsible for monitoring the page and use someone more senior.‘ ‘Nestlé could do a round-up of three or four of the key issues that have been raised and address them. It should also do a video and post it on YouTube to address the topics. If it is brave enough it should do it in response to the Greenpeace video.‘ (Kerry Gaffney, Porter Novelli associate director)
´How an organisation handles itself in the midst of a crisis mayinfluence how it is perceived for years to come. Poor handling ofevents not only can cripple an organisation´s reputation but alsocan cause it enormous monetary loss or even cause its demise. It is essential, therefore, that such emergencies be managed intelligently and forthrightly with the news media, employees, and the community at large.´ (Seitel, p.405)
What they could have done Be prepared to use social media platforms Be prepared for the possible crisis (knowing the experience of Unilever) Be fast, open and respectful in response Take the issue and customers seriously Get involved in the dialogue with Greenpeace Involve CEOs or other official spokespeople Should not censor users and content (rights of free speech)
‘I think the problems with Nestlé were poor understanding ofrisk, lack of appreciation for how little control brands can have if things go wrong in social media and insufficient processes or resources to cope with the crisis they faced.’ (Neil Bayley, Porter Novelli corporate practice leader)