Nestle bows to Greenpeace online campaign

More evidence of how the web is enabling pressure groups with relatively small budgets to embarrass global brands emerged today with the news that Nestle, owner of the KitKat brand, says it is to work with NGOs to investigate its palm oil suppliers over allegations of rainforest and wildlife destruction.

In March Greenpeace put a commercial on Facebook showing an office worker biting into a KitKat chocolate bar only to find the bloodied finger of an orang-utan. This was the latest shot in Greenpeace’s campaign accusing the Swiss conglomerate of stimulating deforestation in Indonesia and destruction of orang-utan habitats by buying palm oil from companies operating illegally.

When Nestle attempted to shut the campaign down, citing copyright offences, Greenpeace reposted the commercial to another site and stirred up a Twitter and Facebook campaign highlighting Nestle’s blocking moves.

It’s just another example of how social media channels level the playing field by allowing anyone to get their message out there and enabling protests against companies or governments to spread across the world in a matter of hours.

No wonder multi-nationals are desperately trying to work on their social media strategies. The problem is that consumers are instinctively distrustful of commercial operations entering what they regard as their (non-commercial) space.

So it looks as if big brands will be regarded as interlopers in social media for some time yet.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.