Nestlé Makes The Very Best

Nice tie-in with Atari from 1983. Customers didn’t talk back in those days. At least not as they can today.

Here’s an interesting story about an all-out fight on Facebook.  A taste of what Unilever got last year.

The details, via All Facebook

The crisis earlier this year was prompted when a Greenpeace video highlighted Nestlé’s use of palm oil grown on former rainforest land in South-East Asia and linked the iconic Kit-Kat with the deaths of orangutans, which are an endangered species. Nestlé sought to ban the video and successfully removed it from YouTube, though not Vimeo. The Nestlé Facebook page was inundated with protests and criticism as a result.

The ad has already prompted a parody on the 28,491-strong “Can this orang-utan get more fans than Nestle?” page, with the word “bullshit” replacing “like” next to the thumbs-up symbol.

The Nestlé page has 109,502 fans but many of them seem to have joined in order to leave critical comments about issues such as palm oil or baby formula, such as the ones below. Nestlé is such a consumer-facing company that it’s probably right not to retreat from social media – but I can’t say I envy the poor PR flacks who have to run this page.

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Oragutans and Social Media

Some of what I’ve seen from mainstream marketing is mostly “monkey see, monkey do” when it comes to social media. “What’s your social media strategy?” is the question they get from each other and outside consultants. I’m amazed at how many companies remain as clueless today as they did five years ago (that’s approximately 20 years in Internet time). I disagree: it is not a “strategy.” Social media is another tactic in a well-planned, integrated marketing communications plan.

Last week,  Unilever CMO Simon Clift  gave an excellent presentation at the Advertising Age Digital Conference (reported as “What Orangutans Taught Simon Clift About Social Media” by Ad Age):

Mr. Clift acknowledged that in social media, Unilever — past digital accolades or no — has fallen back at times on the same one-way-communications mind-set it’s long applied to traditional media, only to learn that one-way communications are impossible. “We may be ahead of some of our competitors,” Mr. Clift said. “But we’re most definitely behind consumers.”

Case in point was the hijacking of “Onslaught,” Dove’s follow-up to the massively viral “Evolution” video, by Greenpeace, which produced a parody, “Onslaught(er),” that skewered Dove and Unilever for their role in razing Indonesian rainforests through their purchases of palm oil. Mr. Clift became aware of the issue when he saw Greenpeace protesters in orangutan suits scaling the walls of the company’s Lever House headquarters in London last summer. Ultimately the parody got 705,000 views to the original’s 405,000 — and helped lead Unilever to talk with Greenpeace and adopt new targets for sustainable palm-oil sourcing.

“The speed of change really has far outpaced our ability to accompany it,” Mr. Clift said. “I, for one, am in awe of the new challenges that the media revolution poses. But … I believe it can force greater change on the conventional marketing model than most people in consumer package goods actually believe.”

Today’s Forbes interview with Mr. Clift touched on social media:

How is Unilever using social media?

We’re extending a toe into social networking. We realize that it’s not up to us to determine the conversations. The consumers will determine the conversations, and the best we can do is be transparent. We’re working with the Rainforest Alliance to certify that Lipton Tea is environmentally responsible. So we invited some American and Canadian journalists to come pick tea at our farm in Kenya. The trip got lots of good coverage. But we found one blogger who was really skeptical and took issue with the fact that Lipton paid for the trip. So the Lipton brand manager logged on as herself and responded to him. It was a bit scary. And consumers were surprised that a real person joined the conversation.

Here’s the Greepeace hijacking:

And here’s the Dove video that went viral last year…

…and one of many parodies…