FrankandPat

April 23, 2008

Unilever’s ‘digital reaction’ to Greenpeace Protest

Filed under: brand, community, dove, unilever, user generated content, video — Tags: , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 12:30 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

The Greenpeace Orang-Utan’s struck Unilever on Monday and within an hour the blogosphere was rampant with rampaging Orang-Utans, videos, images, stories.

As ever ‘Transparency Tyranny‘ is rife and digital is the driving nemesis of corporation x.

What are Unilever doing in response? And how are they going to engage in this digital onslaught, this citizen journalist propagation and ironic spin of ‘real beauty’?

I’m really interested in the strategy behind all of this and how it unfolds. In the inception of the ‘campaign for real beauty’ I wonder if they thought about defensive strategies should stories (which they MUST have suspected) such as this emerge.

On the Unilever site there is a front page news item titled ‘Sustainable Palm Oil’. Click through and you see a video from their SVP of Communications and Sustainability starting with a statement that:

“We have great sympathy with what Greenpeace are trying to achieve, they are drawing attention to a really important issue” – Gavin Neath, SVP Communications and Sustainability

I find the role of SVP ‘Communications’ (Spin) and ‘Sustainability’ incongruous, but that’s another issue.

Unilever's News Page

Unilever are part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO for short, and unsurprisingly they are playing up to this. Unilever claim to be instrumental in setting up the roundtable for sustainable palm and carrying it forward.

The transcript can be found here.

The response is a step, I’d rather see something directly relating and acknowledging the Greenpeace efforts, an alignment of sorts. They are playing it down, but not explicitly responding.

The ‘Dove in the News’ site is even wetter. Dove is all over the news, but it is not showing here.

Cue fingers in the ears – “la la la”:

Dove's News Page

The problem is, in order to hear Unilever’s point of view you have to mobilise yourself to go and see their site, navigate and watch a polished corporate video.

I can’t, yet, find any level of engagement by Unilever with the user-generated, mobilised, chatteriffic sphere of blogs, video sites and social networks. Searches for ‘Greenpeace, Unilever, Palm Oil’ only result in links to sites siding with the Greenpeace effort and not Unilever.

Designing a strategy for organic search traffic is required or else people will simply miss Unilever’s point.

I had a quick scan through the Facebook groups and found lots of Unilever corporate groups for ‘Graduates’ and ‘Management Schemes’ but UNSURPRISINGLY I found the Facebook group ‘Dove: Not so clean’.

Okay – it has 12 members so far.

Corporations are really uncomfortable with this stuff and they continue to ignore dealing with it.

And in closing, the final statement by the interviewer:

“Gavin Neath – thank you very much indeed”

smells horribly corporate and reeks of Aunty (The BBC for non-UK readers).

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