Gorilla Marketing 101: Nestlé, Palm Oil and the Power of the Internet

kitkat protest london

Protesters in Orangutan suits and modified Kit Kat signs.

In a great example of Gorilla marketing, Greenpeace in Europe appears to have been successful in persuading Nestlé to drop Indonesian palm oil producer Sinar Mas Group because of their "continued expansion into rain forests and "critical orangutan habitat." The campaign focuses on Kit Kat, the most popular chocolate bar in Europe, and is a great example of how activists can succeed and how corporations can screw up bigtime.

(Note: Nestlé does not make Kit Kat in the United States, it is licenced to Hershey)

Have a break? from Greenpeace UK on Vimeo.

It all started with this gross Greenpeace ad originally posted on YouTube with the concluding line ""Have a break? Give the orangu-tan a break." Simon Houpt of the Globe and Mail describes what happened next:

The protest might have fallen flat if Nestlé had ignored it. Instead, after the video had been seen by fewer than 1,000 viewers, it was forced from YouTube and replaced with the statement: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A."

Greenpeace quickly re-posted it to Vimeo.com and sent out word about the video's suppression via Twitter and other social media, where users attacked Nestlé both for its heavy-handedness and lagging environmental practices. Many mockingly noted they wouldn't have heard of the issue if Nestlé had not had the video pulled, while others pledged to boycott the company.

A few hours later, Nestlé folded, issuing a statement:

"We share the deep concern about the serious environmental threat to rain forests and peat fields in South East Asia caused by the planting of palm oil plantations."

Nestlé has also committed to using only Certified Sustainable Palm Oil by 2015.

kitkat orangutan

Between the transfat panic and the demand for biofuels, palm oil plantations are being expanded everywhere. Greenpeace had a tough sell here, and they got a lot of help from Nestlé; an interesting lesson for both of them.

Lots More on Palm Oil:
Palm Oil: A Rainforest in your Shopping
Palm Oil in the Spotlight: Plantations Threaten Rare Cats, Peatland Emissions Increasing + A Small Victory
More Evidence Palm Oil Plantations Are Bad for Biodiversity: Have Two-Thirds Lower Ant Species Than Forests
Southeast Asia Paying High Environmental Cost For Palm Oil
Clean Air or Clean Hair? Palm Oil In Everything
Major Campaign against Palm Oil, Destroyer of Orangutans
Rainforest Action Network on Palm Oil
Indonesia to Allow More Palm Oil From Peat Lands: Watch Greenhouse Gas Emissions Go Through the Roof
Logging, Palm Oil and Human Rights in Borneo: Malaysian Government Pushes Ahead By Ousting Indigenous Leaders
Pay No Attention to the Whining Indonesian Palm Oil Industry: The Deforestation, Climate Change & Biodiversity Concerns Are Genuine