Elaine Hill in our office put this one together, which I just find too cute for words. (Want to send it? It’s an Ecard)
Mind you, I did favor a different treatment, which I call Easter Bunny Vs. Orangutan Death Match, but I guess we’ve already reached the slasher fan demographic with our original take.
Amid the ongoing advice that Nestle is getting from PR professionals about how they should have handled the onslaught of Social Media attention they got, it’s notable how few have gotten right the very first question Nestle should have asked themselves:
Are we doing something wrong, and what can we do to fix it?
That’s what listening to your customers is really about. That’s what real corporate responsibility is about. The first question isn’t how do we leverage social media to blunt this attack, or put the best face on our company, or divert attention to questioning the motives of the attackers. It’s what is the real issue that our customers care so deeply about, and how do we align our actions with their expectations?
So many blogs have trumpeted Nestle’s announcement that they were canceling direct contracts with Sinar Mas as a win that Greenpeace ignored – but they clearly didn’t read the fine print. Nestle acknowledges that by buying from palm oil conglomerate Cargill, they’re sill buying Sinar Mas. So what kind of a concession is that, precisely?
A major plank of the Greenpeace demand set was to ask Nestle to pressure Cargill to clean up its supply chain, and to implement means of guaranteeing that they’re not buying palm oil from deforestation.
This is not an unprecedented tactic. Cargill was previously at the center of a storm over the planting of Soy in the Amazon on deforested land. Greenpeace’s target then was Cargill customer McDonald’s. McDonalds did precisely what Nestle should have done: gathered a critical mass of purchasing power and sat Cargill down and read them the riot act. The result was a moratorium, still in place, on deforestation for soy plantations. Cargill had no financial interest in stopping deforestation until their own customers made it their interest. And those corporate customers only had a financial interest in stopping deforestation because their customers made it their interest.
Nestle and Unilever, between them, have sufficient economic clout to insist Cargill not fund deforestation — the money that flows from Kit Kat customer to Nestle to Cargill to Sinar Mas is what’s destroying Indonesia’s rainforest — Greenpeace catalyzed a revolution at the source.
And until Nestle actually rolls up its sleeves and works to solve the problem instead of making cosmetic changes, they’ve not conceded, and they’ve not done the right thing in the eyes of their customers.
Corporate responsibility isn’t just about ducking criticism, or doing enough to get out of the crosshairs, or managing your PR spin — it’s about doing the right thing, and using the power of your brand and your purchasing power constructively.
Easter is the biggest chocolate-buying time of the year, and Nestle is going to be missing out a lot of sales, not because they’ve mismanaged a social media attack, but because they’re contributing to the destruction of our planet and the acceleration of climate change. They’ve underestimated the willingness of their customer base to take action for our planet’s future, and failed to sense the expectation that Nestle should do the same.