22 March, 2010
It seems yet another Nestlé hate campaign has caught the eye of journalists. Not content with making me fat, the international choccie-peddler has been busy censoring critics on its Facebook page, only to cause a firestorm of indignation and attract massive attention to the issues criticised.
I’ve always thought of these Nestlé campaigns as being a bit like Jennifer Aniston movies:
1) They simply won’t go away. They keep cycling around long after you would have thought everyone would have grown tired of them. And terrible publicity never seems to kill them.
2) They all seem bizarrely familiar.
3) They often involve the poorly-thought-through involvement of z-list celebrities.
4) They tend to be surprisingly well-orchestrated and popular.
5) They usually revolve around something sickly-sweet, but ultimately make you feel sad for humanity.
Consider that metaphor laboured.
(Incidentally, as part of our recruitment process at EML Towers we usually ask interviewees to prepare a talk on a notable PR disaster. The boss has often lamented that the Nestlé/African powdered baby milk episode is the one incident that keeps being cited over and over. So be warned…)
While we must be careful not to appear to disrespect the weighty issues involved in the Nestlé debate(s), I suspect Nestlé may have become an institutionalised scratching-post of the anticapitalist and environmental movements, in a similar way to MacDonalds and Nike. They’re a big target. I’m sure there are plenty of other lower-profile companies doing these things.
Anyway, there are some simple lessons to be derived from the Nestlé Facebook page. It’s all too easy to fan the flames of hostile sentiments on social networks. That is, after all, why they call it ‘flaming’. So make sure the people that run the account are Social Media PR-savvy, and that you’re not going to attract undue attention by deleting unwanted comments.
See Digital Inspiration and the excellent PRdisasters.com for further PR observations on this episode.