How Nestle Could Have Fixed Their Problems Online For $7.49

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Dear Nestlé,

I’m living in London for a little while and Kit Kat bars here taste way better than they do back in New York.  I’ve actually had friends ask me to bring them back for them.  I’m really bummed though because after 25 years of eating Kit Kat bars, I’m not going to buy them anymore.

On Friday, you gave the world a shining example of how brands shouldn’t behave online.  It’s a tough break that you were very publicly called-out by Greenpeace for being a contributor to rainforest deforestation.  However, your Draconian response of bullying YouTube into taking down the “Have A Break?” campaign video and insulting your fans and detractors on Facebook has lead to an unmanageable PR nightmare that was totally avoidable.

All you had to do was say, “We’re sorry. We’ve heard and share your concerns and are working with Greenpeace to find ways to fix this problem as soon as possible.  Please visit or to follow our journey towards sustainability.” would have cost you $7.49 on Godaddy and a Twitter profile is free.  I found you a promo code (cjc749fat) to get the discount on the domain, which usually costs $9.99.  It only takes 30 minutes to set up a Tumblr blog and Twitter profile and there’s no hosting costs.

In 15 minutes a day, you could maintain both sites by posting updates on your commitment to sustainability, ie ditching your palm oil vendor or your efforts in Tanzania to increase coffee yield for farmers while maintaining sustainability standards.  On days when you didn’t do anything, you could post interesting content related to sustainability that you find while researching how to make your company better.

Admitting fault is endearing and makes a corporation like you guys seem a bit more human.  When Anssi Vanjoki, #2 at Nokia, publicly apologized for prematurely releasing the N97, which had some pretty substantial bugs, and announced a commitment to fixing the problems as quickly as possible, he bought the company a lot of good will with jilted consumers.  Instead of owning up to your mistakes, you insulted your Facebook fans and tried to navigate your way out with corporate doublespeak.

By the time you posted a press release about your commitment to become fully sustainable by 2015, it was way too little, way too late.

A big part of being social online is actually being social.  If you were at a party and someone took 30 minutes to respond to a question and then insulted your grammar and walked away, you probably wouldn’t want to talk to them again.  If you had simply said “We messed up” the moment Greenpeace posted their campaign it might not have gone viral, and your customers would be focusing on your commitment to sustainability instead of dead orangutans… which are not cool with the urban influencer and early adopter markets these days.

2015 feels very far away and kinda seems like lip service.  However, daily updates on your quest to sustainability would make your efforts seem a bit more real.  You had a really great opportunity to rebrand your company one day at a time by creating really great content about sustainability.

I don’t know if you totally missed the boat, but it kinda seems like you did.  I’m only one guy, but I used to love eating Kit Kat bars and was going to bring back like £20 of English ones for my friends in New York, but now they’ll have to wait until 2015.  Sorry, guys.



Josh Millrod
Josh Millrod is a digital strategist at Wieden+Kennedy, a full-service, creatively driven advertising agency based in Portland, Oregon with offices in Amsterdam, London, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai and Delhi.  Josh’s work encompasses brand strategy, community management and SEO for a variety of clients.  In his ever dwindling free time, he plays trumpet in a noise band called Grasshopper and runs a small record label called Bloodfist Karate School. The views in this article belong solely to the author and do not represent those of Wieden+Kennedy in any way, shape or form.
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  • glen harness

    Thanks for posting this. Now I know your political biases and can judge your posts accordingly.

  • Josh

    This article has nothing to do with politics. No matter how you look at it, Nestle has a brand problem. The suggestion of creating social presences around sustainability has to do with brand marketing and how to avert a crisis. Whether or not I support Nestle is irrelevant to the point that they don't understand social media and need help navigating this disaster.

  • Jay Lohmann

    Completely agree, Josh. This is not a political issue, but a brand / reputation management issue. Nestle obviously learned nothing from the United Airlines Smashed Guitar debacle. Many corporations (and individuals) fail to see the opportunity to turn negative energy into positive, much like the Korean martial art form of Hapkido. Their initial faux pax has resulted in a huge amount of media attention and they should take that “free advertising” (no pr is bad pr), and implement your suggestions. It would be so easy to harness the backlash into a social media pow-wow to encourage consumers to work with them (Nestle) to find sustainable solutions. If their customers are involved, they are more likely to remain/become brand evangelists. At the very least, they (Nestle) needs to seriously review their current advertising agency or internal efforts to handle online public relations and social media marketing. They are dismal at best.

  • thewhatifspecialist

    Josh this is a good example of brand not only out of step with its customers let alone the market place but having no Crisis Management Plan in place. What are the guys in the corner offices doing and when will they wake up to the new reality.

    The big message at last weeks Social Media World Forum in London is that the Brand is Under Threat and senior execs have not realised that their customers will no longer tolerate being shouted at, they want to be engaged and listen to.

  • Mario Vellandi

    They've had a CSR website, blog, and twitter up for a while

    The Facebook page incident was unfortunate. I understand the asking YouTube to take down the video though. What Greenpeace failed to do was adequately convey the facts about the situation. But in classic activist (we're right, you're the devil, enough said) communication style, Greenpeace relied on dramatic emotional stimulation alone.

  • Cassie Wallace

    This is hands down one of the best branding post I've read in a long time. Thank you.

  • seo company

    Thank you Josh for information, all crisis are happens just because of poor management.
    I think some people knew what was happening but the herd instinct was too great. The money was too tempting which caused people to lose their common sense.

  • Dan Frydman

    Nicely done. Though giving up UK made Kitkats as a reprisal is a bit harsh. You can have your chocolate and eat it…

  • Robyn's Online World

    Admitting fault can go a very long way, especially in the social media world!

  • Coffee of the Month Club

    Thank you for sharing this very nice article. I learned a lot.

  • Coffee of the Month Club

    Thank you for sharing this very nice article. I learned a lot.