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Wade in These Waters With Care

April 22, 2010  

In March, MarketingProfs ran an article about brand flubs in social media, starring Southwest Airlines and Heinz. Read the tale. Now we discuss a third brand's stormy social life: Nestle.

Recently, Greenpeace, which raises awareness for ecological issues in provocative ways, released a video of a guy snacking on a Kit Kat, then dripping blood from his mouth onto his computer. The punchline was an appropriated take on Kit Kat's slogan: "Give orangutans a break," pointing to how Nestle purchases palm oil from enterprises that destroy rainforests. Greenpeace encouraged Facebook users to change their avatars to a version of the Kit Kat logo, modified to say "Killer," and then to message Nestle.

The result? An unexpected deluge of complaints. And, sad to say, Nestle's less-than gracious response apparently made people even madder. In the weeks that followed, the harassment intensified, and Nestle fell silent. Not a best-case scenario by any means.

So, a quick message to marketers: Keep these points in mind should the social-media waters turn choppy:

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