Crisis Management in a Digital World


StrategiQ Marketing explore the importance of Crisis Management in our Digital World

In the world of marketing, we savour the opportunity to celebrate our successes. The latest piece of creative genius or the flawless strategy that has heralded unprecedented sales are the moments we all strive towards in the industry. But as important if not more to a marketer, is the role in managing the negativity that accompanies particular brands, namely Crisis Management.

As marketing becomes ever more digitalised, the greater number of platforms available to consumers to air their grievances has caused undeniable difficulty for those protecting and promoting brands. Gone are the days when disgruntled customers would send a letter to head office in the vague hope that someone may offer some form of acknowledgement, replaced by a cutthroat cycle of customers publicly sharing their complaints with the specific expectation of an affirmative and swift response. This evolution has ensured that the role of Crisis Management in modern marketing has itself had to evolve and fast.

Social media’s infinite power as a platform for discussion has provided some drastic challenges for marketers. Perhaps the most well-documented of these, is Greenpeace’s destruction of Nestle’s Kit Kat following revelations concerning unethical links to palm oil, with this disturbing and hard-hitting parody advert.

(WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT – StrategiQ in no way endorses activities that are harmful to rainforests or it’s inhabitants)

Understandably so, the world expressed its outrage at Nestle’s links to palm oil and the destruction of the rainforest, with the video quickly becoming viral across numerous social platforms as hundreds of thousands of users voiced their disgust.

Nestle’s initial approach to Crisis Management can only be described as naive, threatening to delete negative posts in what was a surprisingly aggressive move for the under fire manufacturer, which only served to compound the guilt laid at their door. What Nestle failed to understand was that they were wholly unable to control what people were saying about their brand both on their social platforms and entirely separate social platforms.

After their initial difficulties, Nestle eventually took the wise move of acknowledging their wrongdoing and actively engaging with Greenpeace in order to identify a resolution that was beneficial to their brand and consistent with the greatest good for the planet. Eventually Nestle held meetings with Greenpeace, providing details of its palm oil supply chain and focusing on the long term goal of seeking a credible external partner to certify the sustainability of its palm oil supplier.

The lesson to be learnt from this, was that it was no longer acceptable for brands to ignore grievances in the hope that the furore would “blow over”, instead facing the full fury of the internet and being forced to publicly acknowledge and respond the crisis in their midst. Crisis management is no longer a private affair, with the world of social forcing complaints and grievances into the faces of existing and prospective customers. What brands and marketers must learn, is that this needn’t be a disaster, but rather an opportunity to highlight their relentless investment in customer satisfaction.

If you would like to discuss your digital strategy, get in contact today.