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FINDING A ‘CHUNK‘ IN THE PR ARMOUR

Following the recent PR crisis that was the Tesco horsemeat scandal, it appears as if Nestle are now the next big firm having to sail the murky waters of crisis PR.

Nestle has taken the steps of recalling certain versions of its Kit Kat Chunky chocolate bars from sale in eight countries, after consumers reported finding small pieces of plastic in the products.

The recall affects four versions of the 48g size Kit Kat Chunky Collection – Peanut Butter, Choc Fudge, Hazelnut and Caramel; Nestle also said that the Kit Kat Collection Giant Egg has also been voluntarily withdrawn.

The product recalls apply to the aforementioned products that are on sale in the U.K., Austria, Switzerland, Singapore, Malta, Germany, the Philippines and Canada. However, the reports of plastic being found are limited to the U.K. alone.

Nestle has had to think quickly on their feet as the Kit Kat brand is one of Nestlé’s top-selling brands, with around 150 bars consumed worldwide every second.

Nestle was forced to hurry out a statement, which said: “Seven consumers in the UK have told us they’ve found a piece of plastic in the product. So far, we have not received any other similar complaints, but to avoid any risk whatsoever to our consumers, we have decided to voluntarily recall the entire production of these four Kit Kat Chunky varieties and Kit Kat Chunky Collection Giant Egg manufactured from September 2012.”

The incorrect handling of this PR crisis could be disastrous for Nestle, and their Kit Kat brand; to further compound the situation this product recall couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Firstly, as previously mentioned, the recent horsemeat scandal has heightened the awareness of the general public to any form of national scandal; had the horsemeat scandal not happened the public may have been less attuned to Nestlé’s own scandal.

Secondly, Nestle has recently invested a huge amount of resources in promoting the Kit Kat Chunky ‘Choose a Chunky Champion’ campaign, the efforts of which may now be compromised thanks to the product recall.

Nestlé recently announced that their mint-flavoured limited edition Kit Kat Chunky Bar was named as the nation’s favourite; although this flavour wasn’t included in the product recall, the limited edition Hazelnut and Choc Fudge flavours were. Therefore sales of the mint flavour bar may now be hit as a result of consumers being worried about also finding plastic in these bars.

When food product recalls are required, or indeed any other form of food PR crisis management, specialist food PR agencies such as Pelican PR, are usually drafted in and consulted in order to carry out damage limitation exercises which will help to preserve a brand’s equity as much as possible.

Thanks to the rise in social media, word of mouth (negative or positive) advertising can spread faster than it ever could through the use of traditional platforms; this is mainly due to open channels of communication being widely available in the form of Facebook or Twitter.

To use Nestle to illustrate, Kit Kat’s Facebook and Twitter pages were bombarded with a huge amount of enquires from concerned consumers about the product recall, some of which can be seen below.

 

To further compound Nestlé’s misery, their Yorkie Bar Facebook page has also been recently besieged by outraged customers, following the reduction in size of the Nestle-owned Yorkie Bar from 64.5g to 55g- the second size reduction in three years.

A typical comment on Facebook read: “Shame on Yorkie for shrinking the bar sizes even more. It’s like a fun size bar now and I won’t buy it anymore.”

Author: Craig Bradshaw


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