When an organizations is confronted with petitions or protests, the question posed is always the same: should you respond to the situation? It depends.
The American food giant, KRAFT, faced a situation where two American bloggers were protesting artificial dyes in KRAFT Mac & Cheese, which they believe to be unhealthy. They started a petition on Change.org calling for KRAFT to stop using yellow 5 and yellow 6 dyes in the American childhood staple; the petition has over 270,000 signatures. One of the bloggers took to the streets recently handing out samples of the yellow dye-free version of KRAFT Mac & Cheese available in the UK asking people if they could tell a taste difference. It garnered mainstream media attention.
KRAFT has responded to the concerns raised by the bloggers and addressed their loyal KRAFT Mac & Cheese fans in a letter on their website. In addition, they added a section to their website addressing the concerns.
So how do you deal with this sort of activism? Here are some steps in dealing with consumer activism:
■ Find out what the protesters really want. Does the concerns link to an unhappy individual, or was it organized by a group? You need to understand who the protesters are and what they really want. What’s their motivation?
The bloggers’ campaign was pretty clear and they made their point to KRAFT online and using traditional media. KRAFT has reportedly met with the bloggers listening to their concerns first hand.
■ Stay within the scope of the issue at hand. And provide only the facts.
KRAFT has stayed within the scope of the issue. They are focused on educating the public on KRAFT Mac & Cheese and the use of dyes in that specific product. From their letter, they address people’s concerns by pointing out that for those looking for Mac & Cheese with natural colors or no colors at all, there are options available. They also addressed the concerns that the dyes are harmful by sending those interested to the FDA website. KRAFT did this by explaining in lay terms making it accessible to everyone.
■ Get the facts out via all communications channels. Start with the channel the activism is coming from then move to other channels.
KRAFT used their website to get their position out to the consumers. It is front and center on their landing page so people do not have to go digging to find the information. Their Twitter and Facebook accounts have not addressed the situation; however, brand champions have been coming to the brand’s aid on the Facebook Page.
KRAFT’s communications team is most certainly monitoring this situation closely for a change in velocity and sentiment on the issue. Right now online mentions are mostly neutral and/or positive with very few negatives after I did a quick search using Trackur as well as a standard Google search. As an organization, you should always be listening.
If you can find out what the protesters want then you can decide if you need respond or not. KRAFT responded as well as the products loyal consumers.
While your organization can’t be loved all of the time, you can manage this sort of community relations issue effectively keeping the above tips in mind.
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