In 2010, Greenpeace uploaded a video to Youtube that shows an office worker opening a chocolate package Kit-Kat, from which comes an orangutan finger and begins to eat while blood stains. Its purpose was to generate awareness in the consumer about the death of orangutans caused by the felling of trees for the extraction of palm oil, one of the necessary ingredients for the manufacture of chocolate bars. As part of the campaign, the NGO also denounced Sinar Mas, the then-leading supplier of Nestlé palm oil.
The campaign went viral and Nestlé opted to ask Youtube to withdraw the video, arguing copyright infringement for the use of the chocolate logo, but by the time the video was removed, it had already gone viral. At the same time, they issued a statement denying their relationship with Sinar Mas. Both actions caused Greenpeace to start another campaign, but this time requesting a boycott against all Nestlé products. Thus, Greenpeace began to circulate the video again, but now on alternative platforms to YouTube, in addition to publishing Kit-Kat logos rewritten with the word “Killer” and images of orangutans.
Despite the fact that the censorship strategy against Greenpeace was not well received by consumers, Nestlé continued with the same strategy, threatening – for example – to block Facebook users who continued to make negative publications towards the brand. Afterwards, he asked that users who did not agree with it stop following the Kit-Kat page on Facebook and began to eliminate negative comments. Being social networks a means that can give companies the opportunity to create a more personal link with consumers, it also means a risk since it allows users to maintain greater vigilance over the actions of a company and that they can not simply censor.
Due to the elimination of comments, many users created accounts with the sole purpose of continuing to disparage Kit-Kat. In response, Kit-Kat took a confrontational attitude with users, raising a lot of controversy about how the company answered its consumers. The damage to the reputation of Kit-Kat was greater since the users evidenced the inattentive answers of the company, in addition to the environmental issue that caused the crisis initially.
Eventually, Kit-Kat gave in to the pressure. That is why, in 2013, Nestlé released a statement in which it set a series of environmental objectives to meet before 2020, among which was the use of sustainable palm oil. It is not the first time that a company is affected by GreenPeace activism, for example, in 2014 when Greenpeace launched a campaign against Lego for the trade agreements it had with Shell. Brands should not forget that social networks have made companies more vulnerable by becoming the means by which users ask them to be held accountable for their actions in an organized manner.
Do you think your company may be vulnerable to social media activism? Contact us to make a damage control and containment plan, you can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.