On Missing the Mark

This post is not about breastfeeding or formula. And while I am absolutely qualified to talk about Nestle I will not. I have been in the breastfeeding space for more than a decade. And the long, dirty history of Nestle’s marketing practices, WHO violations and human-rights abuses are simply a factual prologue to the recent stir that the Nestle family blogger event has caused in the social media world.

There is enough Nestle talk out there. I choose not to recount the history or educate anyone. The facts are in the public domain and easy enough for anyone to access.  Since yesterday’s powerful and well-written post by Annie @PHDinParenting  the lines have been drawn and it is getting nasty. I have watched from the sidelines (OK I have not been totally silent) – we are all witnessing mommy bloggers out for blood and people are getting hurt.

To me this is a case study for poor planning, short-sighted thinking and other classic marketing errors. What is clear to me is that there was no strategic or top-level thinking applied to this horrific play for Moms on the part of Nestle. In fact, it smacks of lack of experience, lack of understanding and certainly lack of expertise.  Nestle has undervalued women in the worst way. Can’t you just imagine the “big idea” meeting:  so the idea is they will love us, ask no questions and go forth and re-build our image all for the low, low price of a hotel room, some meals and some swag.

So Nestle, as a woman who is always curious and is passionate about marketing to new mothers – I am dying to know — who the hell was in that room? Who sat around the big old Nestle table when you failed to consider the terms of engagement with these women you wanted to woo? Or when you decided to withhold key information from women on the off chance that they would not find out? The plan was what — these moms should be your advocate and not know of your true, controversial history? How about when they were left in a position to defend you against the endless attacks on twitter and on blogs – how were they to manage that Nestle, what was the plan?

In fact, what Nestle has done is continued their tradition interpreting/massaging facts to suit their objectives. Never mind who gets hurt in the way, right? There is no statute of limitations on the many blemishes on your corporate resume and now you have added a new abuse, abuse of women (and some men too from what I understand)– congratulations on that.

This is a stunning example of why those who are involved with marketing to/with women and in specific, social media need to have well grounded leader managing their strategy. Someone with experience needs to be in charge and minding the big picture. Without going into a high level of detail here (boring, for some) strategy is built from a clear and well – thought out assessment  and analysis of a brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Simple – marketing 101 stuff.  Gunning to fast tactics cannot, will not advance a brand. In fact, ill-conceived programs such as Nestle Family have the makings of a perfect storm. And today has been just that…

Nestle has lost control of the conversation – in fact the conversation that is being had is not only off-message (one would assume ) but the defense of Nestle has been left in the hands of those least qualified to handle it — the bloggers who answered their call and came for a few days of fun. This is damaging  to the brand  on a profound level (obviously) and leaves these bloggers in an untenable position. Feeling loyal, under attack, not knowing facts, frankly over their heads and outside of any normal scope of engagement for an event like this.

So Nestle – one more question(as one known for asking so many probing, hard questions of my clients) – Now you have a war with your name on it – now what’s the plan?