Monday, March 22, 2010

'Advertisers should fear Twitter and Facebook more than regulators'

Interesting viewpoint from the global head of comms giant Havas in the Guardian last Friday.
David Jones, the global chief executive of Havas Wordwide, has warned that advertisers who market their brands as socially responsible should fear "inherently negative" social media such as Twitter and Facebook more than getting ad campaigns banned by regulators.

Jones said that with the rise of social media, with which many companies are still grappling, brands should be more worried about consumers than trying to outmanouevre the regulator.

"Social media is inherently a more negative than a positive medium on many levels," he added. "Lots of stuff that is passed around is negative. If you are a brand or a company today you should be far less worried about broadcast regulations than digitally empowered consumers. What is an ASA sanction versus a [negative] sanction from a couple of million people if you are not authentic?"

'Surely he's being a bit melodramatic,' thought I to myself. 'It's not quite that vicious, is it?' Then, with consummate irony on the timing front, Néstle found itself in a whole Facebook of trouble over its supplier policies in Indonesia. That wasn't the touchpaper however. Having an idiot at the controls of the Facebook page was what provoked a storm of negative howls.

First off, a fairly cocky status statement greets you:

Ok, so far so not exactly shiniest practitioner of good community relationships. And pretty soon it gets called out on the attitude by Paul:

Ok, nobody's throwing stuff around so far. This is now the moment where a cool head will decide how things go from here.

Ouch! Way to show the customer who's always right, Nestlé. Firm, firm, firm hand at the controls. We like it! But Paul ain't going away.

Take that, you big multinational you, and rethink! Which they did!

Oh no they diint!
Oh yes they diid!! They just told him that he was as irrelevant as the on average eight insect legs per  bar that end up in the choccie vats, allegedly. With more pithiness than I can muster here, somebody later on in the thread said 'Well, the chocolate's hit the 93,000 fans now' or something similar. Sorry I can't find it now for proper attribution, but the thread is very, very, very long by this stage and will be having a massive impact on the company. I'm frankly amazed that there's no real sign of moderation from what is, after all, the world's biggest nyom conglom. I did find an apology of sorts in there too, but am curious as to why they bothered.

The floodgates are ripped off at the hinges long since, and the well meaning complaints and the cranks and everything in between are going full tilt through Nestlé like prune juice. Their nut clusters are in such a vice right now that it will have some sort of impact on share price, I don't doubt. And while obviously at the heart of this is a very sore point about how they go about their ingredients gathering in our super-connected world, it still got kick started with a rookie mistake. Control of the FB page was given to someone who should not have been entrusted with the brand's reputation on the two-way street.

This is what Havas head honcho Jones meant when he spoke about fearing the negativity of online interfaces like Twitter and Fb. Oh boy is it ever.

I wait with huge interest to see what Nestlé's next move will be. Last word with Paul, and this is still on the host's fan page. (Numbers of fans still growing, it is noted.)

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