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Nestlé Commits Social Media Suicide

Not All Puns Are Created Equally

I’ve previously discussed how easy it can be for an innocent mistake to ruin a company’s reputation on Twitter. While both celebrities and corporations have been responsible for their fair share of gaffes over the years, the main difference between the two is that personal horror-shows often come down to the individual celebrity’s politics, and companies, who are generally much less opinionated in the content they share, get in hot water because they have failed to put enough research into the significance of a certain hashtag or event.

One false move, and your entire online reputation can be ruined in moments.
For this reason, companies mostly choose to sit on the fence. When every comment made has the potential to receive a backlash from the hyper-sensitive, highly proactive internet, is it truly worth risking a comment that's even slightly close to the bone? As effective a marketing strategy as a little bit of controversy can be, Twitter has proven time and time again to be the worst way to go about getting it.

Nestlé, however, apparently don't care. The company, which makes delicious chocolate while simultaneously hating rainforests, children and kittens (the last one is unconfirmed, but what else do you think they crush up to make Kit-Kats?), recently added another atrocity to the list: in reference to the Iguala, Mexico mass kidnapping, in which 43 students were kidnapped and at least six were brutally murdered by local drugs cartels and local police, Nestlé made the following tweet:
If your Spanish isn't quite up to scratch (or it is, but you can't believe what you're reading), we're basically informed that the recently deceased students had been 'Crunched.' The tweet, which has naturally been deleted, used the tragedy as the basis of a cheap play on words to sell a chocolate bar. Meanwhile, the murders have left Mexico in a state of political uncertainty, and dozens of peaceful and violent protests have taken place up and down the country in its wake.

I'm no marketing guru, but this all sounds like the sort of thing that wouldn't be a good thing to mock to try and sell a chocolate bar. Still, the 'crunched' connection is pretty damn clever (it took me a while to figure out the complicated wordplay), so you can see why they couldn't turn it down.

Following the publication and swift deletion of the tweet, Nestlé spent Monday making official apologies to those left offended. While this was honourable, and I've previously praised Digiorno Pizza for doing the same during their very own Twitter nightmare, there is a big difference between both. Nestle's tweet made a very conscious decision to use the recently opened wound of a national tragedy to try and sell a few more products; nothing about it was an accident, and they'd probably call the resulting publicity a huge success.
Of course, in this article I've made the assumption that the tweet was made by a representative of the company and not just a particularly cold-hearted hacker. This is due to Nestlé's reluctance to explicitly mention another party. On Mexican news, they announced they were 'currently investigating' whether the tweet was made internally or externally. Surely, if there was any doubt that the tweet was made internally, they’d be doing everything they possibly could to shift the blame?

Instead, they're simply apologising. To me, this is an admission of guilt, and hard evidence that the four fingers of blame can be pointed squarely at Nestlé themselves. Innocent until proven guilty? They have previous.

Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

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Nestlé Commits Social Media Suicide Reviewed by Emile Cole on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 Rating: 5
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