Citizen activists increasingly use social networks to bash brands.
By Jeremiah Owyang
Most companies are barely prepared to deal with unhappy customers who use social media to air their gripes. Now they must be ready to respond when organized entities, such as Greenpeace, wage massive campaigns against their brands using social media channels.
Greenpeace and other organizations have a long history of demonstrating in real life against corporations in order to influence their agenda. Yet we’re seeing this cascade online as well as the real world.
In March, Greenpeace launched a viral campaign criticizing Nestle’s use of palm oil from companies that are destroying Indonesian rain forests.The campaign included a video in which an office worker opened a Kit Kat chocolate bar only to find an orangutan’s finger in the red wrapping and a call to Greenpeace’s Twitter followers to “attack” the Swiss company’s Facebook fan page. Thousands of social media users posted comments criticizing the company’s practices and posted altered logos, like one that replaced “Kit Kat” with “Killer.” Nestle, unprepared for the influx of criticism, said it is now committed to using only “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil” by 2015.
In the wake of BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Greenpeace orchestrated another attack. It challenged the public to design a new BP logo that, according to the organization’s website, is “more suitable for their dirty business.” The competition garnered over 2,000 entries, including a design that suggested BP stands for “black planet” to images of oil coated birds and fish. Greenpeace is leaving the winner up to the public, who can vote for the best logo redesign. In addition, Greenpeacerecently released a “ScamWow!” infomercial parody of the “ShamWow!” super towel, targeting BP and other oil companies’ that need a quick-fix solution to their ecological disasters.
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