Stories like this don’t happen everday – but they should, and hopefully will, more often.
Over the weekend Greenpeace Canada posted a video on YouTube critical of food giant Nestle’s use of non-sustainable palm oil in products like its popular KitKat chocolate bar. Greenpeace asserts Palm oil is made on plantations created by razing the Indonesian rain forest – a major source of greenhouse gas reduction and orangutan habitat. The video shows a bored office worker chowing down on a KitKat unaware that what he actually pulls from the wrapper are orangutan fingers – complete with oozing blood.
Nestle quickly had YouTube pull the video for “copyright infringement” but not before it was copied to other sites on the net. You can see the video as part of this Digital Journal ariticle.
In the March 22 episode of the social media podcast, For Immediate Release (FIR #536), hosts Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson reported that the issue spilled over to Nestle’s Facebook page – which had more than 94,00 fans at “press” time. [“Pressing” the Publish button on my blog that is:-)] They said many fans of the page had answered Greenpeace’s call to change their fan pictures to anti-Nestle logos like this:
They also said that Nestle had responded by deleting the pictures and having one of their PR people respond, sometimes rudely, to some of the comments on the page. Nestle then, apparently, reversed its decision, stoppped deleting the logos and had the PR person apologise. A look at the page now suggests the FIR report was right on the money. The logos are there as are all the negative comments. The page is now an ad for how bad Nestle is and Nestle, to their great credit, is letting it all happen. In addition, a March 23, Vancouver Sun story reported that “Nestlé responded to the campaign within hours, announcing it would follow in the footsteps of other companies, such as Unilever and Kraft, by cancelling contracts with [Nestle’s Indonesian supplier of palm oil] Sinar Mas. The Switzerland-based company has also committed to using only “certified sustainable palm oil” in its products by 2015.”
It took them a while but Nestle finally got it and learned that real power lies in letting people comment, listening to what they say and changing if you’re in the wrong.
None of this is easy to do, especially for large companies. However, these companies, and the people who run them, didn’t get where they are by doing what’s easy.
Well done Nestle. And well done Greenpeace. I think I’ll go have a KitKat…
If you have a story about progressive groups using social media to spur change or any other thoughts on this post please leave a comment!