Client: Nestle Nigeria Plc
Project: (Expired milk controversy) Crisis Management
Situation Analysis: A major campaign had commenced against Nestle. The very damaging series of reports alleged that Nestle had imported a consignment of expired milk into the country. For a company with Nestlé’s pedigree, this was a major challenge to her credibility as one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies.
The Challenge: Develop and execute a holistic plan to plug the stream of negative stories, create a strategy to mitigate the damage and advice on long term strategies to sustain Nestlé’s reputation as a socially and ethically responsible company.
Our Strategy: Consultancy was first concerned with the immediate tactical issue of plugging the stream of negative stories by balancing NAFDAC’s very hostile point of view. This was a very sensitive issue because NAFDAC is the industry policeman and authority on this type of issue. If the negative stories continued, the multinational faced the grim possibility of potential loss of major market share.
Our Tactics: We intervened at three levels: Reporters were educated on the real issues at stake – the potential damage to industry and the likely loss of employment by thousands of Nigerians if Nestle were to be forced out of business. The idea was to get their sympathy with a view to softening their reports on the company.
Step 2: We presented Nestle’s side of the story to all title editors and news editors. Dr Sam Adenekan, spokesman for Nestle, was presented as a friendly, smiling and ever-so-nice professional. It worked and they pledged as a group to ceasefire.
Step 3: Client was advised to engage NAFDAC in a closer relationship and partner with professional media associations with a view to avoiding a repeat and creating a buffer even when things go badly wrong.
Results: Within the first week, the stream of negative stories was reduced by 80%. Despite NAFDAC’s unrelenting campaign against the multinational, we were able to achieve 100% compliance by the second to third week.
On the strategic level, the groundwork done on mitigation and the network of relationships exploited at the time have ensured continued positive press for the multinational.