Category Archives: bad strategy

Nestle’s Facebook meltdown


Oops. Nestle, or whoever runs their Facebook fan page, stepped on a social media landmine this weekend with this update:

Nestle: To repeat: we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic – they will be deleted. Fri at 2:26am

Nestle received 190 complaints within 24 hours on Facebook, and thousands of tweets reaching hundreds of thousands of consumers. You see, the surest way to tick off users of social media is to delete their comments. Yes, by the old standards of 20th century law, brands have a right to protect their intellectual property. But social media comprises fluid networks of users sharing and retweeting and mashing up material. Brands no longer command media channels or the spread of memes; if you want to win, you have to give users room to play.

Here are highlights from how it played out:

Paul Griffin: Not sure you’re going to win friends in the social media space with this sort of dogmatic approach. I understand that you’re on your back-foot due to various issues not excluding Palm Oil but Social Media is about embracing your market, engaging and having a conversation rather than preaching! Read www.cluetrain.com and rethink! Fri at 2:51am

Nestle: Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it’s our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus. Fri at 2:53am

Paul Griffin: Your page, your rules, true, and you just lost a customer, won the battle and lost the war! Happy? Fri at 2:56am

Nestle: Oh please .. it’s like we’re censoring everything to allow only positive comments. Fri at 2:58am

Darren Smith: Honey you need new PR Fri at 3:20am

Jagos Golubovic: I was a big fan of your products, but now, when I saw what you guys wrote, I think I’m gonna stop buying them. Fri at 3:55am

Helen Constable: I’d like to know if the person writing the comments for Nestle, actually has the backing from Nestle? I doubt it. Even a dumb ass company like them would get such an idiot to be their public voice. Fri at 4:10am

Nestle: I think you missed out the ‘not’ there, Helen Fri at 4:12am

Hyra Zaka: is a nestle rep running this page????? Fri at 4:39am

Nestle: We welcome debate, @Hyra – from any opinion. It helps us to know what people think and feel. Fri at 4:44am

ymann Lee: WFT !!!! This firm is a ugly creep !! trafficking and now censorship of my personal life. it seems pretty nazi !! Fri at 5:19am

Fernanda Shirakawa: I’m not using your logo… Fri at 5:55am

Fernanda Shirakawa: You deleted my comment anyway… Fri at 5:57am

Damien DeBarra: What a total train wreck. Sorry Nestle, but you really don’t seem to get it do you? Social media provides you with an opportunity to engage with your customers – to listen to them, to show that you actually care about ethical issues in business. Sadly it seems you have precisely the opposite attitude and seem determined to be as aggressive, patronising and corporatist as you can. And practically guaranteed that folks will now start shunning your products. Fri at 8:00am

Mark Watts-Jones: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Case study in how not to engage with your customers. We’ll await the inevitable apology and climb down. Fri at 11:06am

Nestle: This (deleting logos) was one in a series of mistakes for which I would like to apologise. And for being rude. We’ve stopped deleting posts, and I have stopped being rude. Fri at 1:29pm

(Update: The prelude to all this was a coordinated Greenpeace attack on Nestle’s Facebook page, which helps explain why the FB community manager was defensive; Jeremiah Owyang has a summary here.)

Why we called Starbucks stupid, and why you lie too much


This morning we hit Starbucks in Fairfield, Conn., on a perfect coffee-shop day. Gray skies, overcast, rainy. We dodged the taste-test guys at the door, grabbed a mocha-venti-something, and headed for the second floor, filled with plush couches and wide windows. Beautiful. Except there is no free Wi-Fi.

If you travel, you know Wi-Fi is as necessary as a pressed shirt. We’ve noticed the trend of coffee shops cutting internet access before, but since we’re now on planes three times a month shooting all over the country, we decided to sign up for the Starbucks paid Wi-Fi via AT&T. For $20 a month. $240 a year. And it hit us, getting on the internet at Starbucks is costing us more than a new iPhone.

So we tweeted “Starbucks I Hate You.

Now, this isn’t a rant on Starbucks’ cheapness. We can guess how the game is played. The titanium-craniumed boys from McKinsey come in, provide a black-and-white PowerPoint deck, and tell CEO Howard Schultz he can shave $XX million dollars by knocking out free Wi-Fi. Heck, Schultz can even make money with a rev-share with AT&T, and since he skipped a salary increase in 2009 due to tough times, this likely sounds good.

No, really. You’re a dumbass.

This is a rant about honesty. We tweeted our frustration, and Mullen ad guru Edward Boches wrote back whimsically “Guess they won’t be a client anytime soon.” We’re sure Edward was joking … but is it surprising that an ad agency might say something honest about a company’s mistake?

If you work in advertising you’ve seen lots of presentations to clients, and the worst usually begin with a sycophant complimenting the CEO about his golf game. Schmoozing, oozing flattery leads clients down dangerous garden paths. In fact, almost every campaign presentation is carefully orchestrated to push clients off-guard — watching the new creative on a shining flat-panel screen in a warm conference room filled with coffee, likely Starbucks. The glow of groupthink pervades as compliments abound. This is great. No, you’re great. This campaign will be great. And very rarely do we hear hard-hitting critiques of what could be done better. Agencies often have no incentive, because it costs them more to recut creative or media plans. Clients often don’t push back hard, because they’re already paying big bucks and admitting what they paid for is flawed hurts their own egos. Everyone has an incentive to be slightly dishonest, to say things are better than they are, and substandard ideas go out the door.

But what if we were all honest? What if you had Starbucks as a client, they suggested charging for Wi-Fi, and you looked Howard Schultz in the eye and said, friend, that is one big, dumb-ass move? Howard might be insulted. He might fire you, and have security kick you into the street. But then again, he might avoid a mistake, Starbucks customer loyalty would improve, and the chain might stop closing stores.

So Starbucks, when we say we hate you, we do it out of love. Now we’re going to figure out how to write this down as a business expense, and then get a second cup.

The Philly Inquirer fights web by, um, slowing down


Would you try to stop a departing customer by slowing down your service?

Philadelphia Inquirer has done just that, with managing editor Mike Leary announcing no news stories will be posted on its web site until they have been previously printed in the hardcopy newspaper and delivered on readers’ doors. His memo to staff notes,

What that means is that we won’t post those stories online until they’re in print. We’ll cooperate with philly.com, as we do now, in preparing extensive online packages to accompany our enterprising work. But we’ll make the decision to press the button on the online packages only when readers are able to pick up The Inquirer on their doorstep or on the newsstand.

In a world where consumers learn about earthquakes in China in two seconds via Twitter, and in which The New York Times publishes its upcoming Sunday magazine stories on its web site the prior Thursday afternoon, the world’s hunger for instant news kills any competitor who isn’t fast. The idea of a major city publication slowing down to try to stop the migration of readers to the internet is rather comical.

Mr. Leary has made a basic, strategic flaw. If the Philly Inquirer were the only news game in town, tightening the reigns on the information release could stimulate demand for the print paper. But bloggers, wire feeds, social media, and national web sites all provide most of the information in the local paper — and a block on the Inquirer will cause readers, like water, to flow elsewhere.

The Inquirer’s circulation is following the national trend off a cliff, with daily print circ down 5.12% in just the past year. Bloggers are already talking about setting up new competition.

Via Dirk. Photo: I Like.