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Nestle online charm offensive = lipstick on a pig

Seems someone has been beating up on Nestle in the social media world. In fact, it is so bad that they had to fly in a bunch of PR firms into their headquarters in Switzerland to brief them on Nestle's need for help charting a path through social media.

According to Arun Sudhaman's article, Nestle briefs agencies for online offensive to counter criticism, in PR Week UK:
The action comes as Nestle continues to encounter vociferous online opposition on a range of issues, from traditional concerns about its formula milk, to newer attacks on its digital marketing efforts.

The article references the Nestle Family incident in particular and also mentions that Nestle has a social media positivity score of only 12 out of 100. That comes as no surprise.

A commenter on Sudhaman's article hit the nail on the head. Tracy Morter said:
The only people who can help mend Nestle's reputation are themselves. Do what boycotters have been asking them to do for 30 years. It's not rocket science! They don't need a social media miracle worker, they just need a conscience.

This is one of the key points I was trying to make in my post on Nestle's use of social media. Open participation in social media does not work well for companies with systemic unethical business practices. In her post, PR Cannot be a Substitute for Product, Jessica Gottlieb points out that:
If Nestle  didn’t discourage breastfeeding and made some changes to their product line, all their bad buzz would go away. Instead they’re aiming to hire someone to sit behind the Green Curtain and try to trick people into thinking that some sort of systemic change has happened at Nestle.

Unless major changes are made to Nestle's business practices and its products, a social media offensive will be nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig. No matter how expensive or how pretty that lipstick is, a pig is still a pig. The fact that Nestle thinks it can fool people by hiring yet another PR firm, reputation management company, or media monitoring service, is insulting and laughable.

So, to whoever is taking on this momentous and impossible task for Nestle: Welcome to the PhD in Parenting blog. You'll probably be spending quite a bit of time here.

P.S. Keep on boycotting. Here is a list of products to boycott and you can join the facebook Nestle boycott group and subscribe to the Boycott Nestle blog too.

Image credit: emilylt on flickr

« I left my kids for five days and it was okay | Main | Wake Up! For your child's sake »

Reader Comments (15)

Such is the way with these corporations built on profit and nothing else. I love to watch the PR scramble. Thanks for supplying the list of products to boycott. I'm in.

Love this post. Some companies really just make me ill!

February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCathy H. @frugalgirl

Annie, I am so proud to know you!! You keep making the point and making the point and making the point. You do it in language that cannot be dismissed as the hysterical rantings of a deranged lactivist and you are having an impact!

February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeaningLactivist

I said the same thing on Jessica Gottlieb's blog - every time I hear about how hard Nestle is working to improve their image without just SHAPING UP already, it strengthens my resolve to never buy another one of their products. We're not asking for the company to disappear, we're just asking for them to stop systematically undermining breastfeeding at every turn.

February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

Exactly! Nestle buck up, or buck off. We have other choices in what we buy and we're choosing the other products.

February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTepary

Ooh very interesting post and you can totally tell your passion and determination for this. It bleeds through in all your words and is very powerful. I clicked on the link to see all the Nestle products. Yikes! So many products by this big company. Keep on going and spreading the word, you are doing a wonderful job.

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMama in the City

We've been boycotting them for the last seven years and don't intend to stop. It's amazing that they think a little social networking will change what they are doing to families, or even the public's perspective of what they've been doing.

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLS

Well, you already know how I feel. I saw it first hand. And until I get confirmation from the people I know in Ethiopia that Nestle has changed their practices I know I will not be buying their products. I am still so disgusted!!!!!

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUpstatemomof3

This line: "So, to whoever is taking on this momentous and impossible task for Nestle: Welcome to the PhD in Parenting blog. You’ll probably be spending quite a bit of time here." is just so damn good, I just can't stop laughing! Love it!

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercoffeewithjulie

You continue to inspire me to be a stronger, better mother and woman. Thank you. You, Annie, kick some major ass. Made some cookies the other day and made it a point to pass up the Nestle choc. chips. They were damn good cookies, cookies with a conscious taste amazing.

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill @BabyRabies

[...] Nestle is embarking on an emergency online PR campaign to restore its reputation amid sustained criticism on the internet, reports PR Week UK.  The reason?  Nestle continues to encounter vociferous online opposition on a range of issues, from traditional concerns about its formula milk, to newer attacks on its digital marketing efforts.  Some bloggers feel this is no more than putting lipstick on a pig. [...]

Wow! Thanks for posting this. I had no idea!

February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterC

Great post. I think the scariest part of the whole thing is the list of products to boycott. Is there anything NOT made by Nestle? I read some of your other Nestle posts, too. It makes me sad to see this company is promoted by so many mom blogs.

February 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather King

This is so great! I had no idea until I took a breastfeeding course last month how terrible the company really is. The worst part for me was them sending formula to Africa ... but only for a limited time. How the hell did they think the mothers in Africa would be able to mix formula after their pre-mixed supply ran out? Clean water anyone? It's disgusting...they try to appear to be oh-so-generous, but they are totally corrupt. I'm joining the boycott. I love love love your blog!!!

April 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMomma K

[...] in their responses. Since then, I have continued to write a variety of posts on issues related to Nestlé and on my decision and the decision of others with regards to the Nestlé sponsorship of BlogHer [...]

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