Experts share important crisis management lessons basis real crisis such as Nestle’s excess lead and Cadbury’s worms in chocolate.
In 2003, when worms were found in Cadbury chocolates, their sales dropped drastically. Bharat Puri, MD, Pidilite, then director of Sales & Marketing, Cadbury (now Mendelez) shared the dramatic instance and how the brand waded through it.
While the brand’s market share dropped dramatically, Puri was subjected to a lot of the protests along with the brand. It is then that Puri and team decided to dive in head first and save their brand.
After repackaging the product and a team member came up with the idea of roping in Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador. Why Bachchan, Puri questioned? To which the team told him that the country is likely to listen to only two people – Big B and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India.
Soon, Bachchan was roped in on the brief that he would have to be the true ambassador of Cadbury and sell the chocolates only if he believes in them. This is when the first campaign post the controversy came out and worked wonder for the brand.
Cut to 2016, Maggi noodles were banned by the food safety regulator for high lead and MSG content. According to reports, the noodles which had 80 percent market share in May 2015 went down to zero in just a month. The brand was accused of keeping a ‘dismissive’ and ‘defensive’ tone on social media, which aggravated the situation. Nestle India later had to rope in US based PR specialist APCO Worldwide to tide over the negative publicity.
It is then that the brand came out with campaigns such as #WeMissYouToo.
Companies can get hit by a crisis at any moment, but they need to tide over such situations through planning and strategy.
Venke Sharma, Hushidar Kharas, Bharat Puri, and Karthi Marshan share crisis management lessons in the digital age.
Listen: There is no luxury of time in today’s fast social media age to respond to queries. It is very important to listen to what the consumer is saying. Identify the crisis and respond early. Invest in listening tools, which will help to find out what are consumers talking about you.
Be transparent & responsive: In times of crisis, a lot of brands prefer to shy away from the public eye, it actually ends up hampering the image of the brand. People get suspicious when they see no communication from the brand’s end. Therefore, it is very important to be transparent, if there is something wrong, communicate and assure people that efforts are being made to mitigate it. Share photos and videos and tell them what you are doing to fix the problem.
Make a crisis management squad: In today’s social media age, handling a crisis should be a collective effort. The CCO needs to know, who all to call when things go wrong in his company.
Action is good, but it should be a calculated one. Any tweet from the brand is equivalent to a statement coming from the CEO. It is a fulltime job and not a part time one.
Invest in technology and resources: There will be a lot of conversation which happens on social media pertaining to the brand, your resource should be smart in identifying which conversation has the probability of flaring up and can lead to crisis.
Learn from others mistakes: Study and see, where other companies have gone wrong in times of crisis and how they have dealt with it. Think of all the areas, where you can also go wrong and make that your playbook. Refer and follow it, when you face difficult times.
Consumers should love your brand: Crisis can occur any time, and one of the most effective ways to make your brand indestructible is to get consumer love. If you have the backing of your loyal consumers, it can help you come out of any difficult situation.
The experts shared crisis management lessons at the book launch of,= ‘The Indestructible Brand – crisis management in the age of social media’ by Venke Sharma and Hushidar Kharas. An interesting session on ‘Crisis Management: Then and Now’ with Bharat Puri, MD, Pidilite Industries and Karthi Marshan, Sr. EVP and Head – Group Marketing Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited was followed after this.