What the Greenpeace Nestle KitKat campaign is missing

This week has been a very interesting week for campaigners. Many of you might have heard that Greenpeace has hit hard on Nestle and its KitKat product with allegations that Nestlé SA buys palm oil from companies destroying the Indonesian rain forests in order to plant oil palms. The video it self is very graphic but brings the point across like not many videos I have seen.

Here is the video (but if you can’t see blood do not watch this):

Have a break? from Greenpeace UK on Vimeo.

My opinion and criticism
I like the fact that Greenpeace is trying to make the world a better place and is going against the horrible palm oil practices. But there are limits how far to go. And I believe that this campaign video is going just a little bit to far and is missing a key ingredient.

I am not talking about the fact that you are seeing blood or anything similar but I am skeptical about the actual information aspect of all of this. This video in my opinion can be compared to the doom and gloom climate change ads and videos that we all hate. They are graphic but they do not really serve the purpose of being informative and promoting the most effective action by everyone to change our ways.

The same in my opinion is true for this Greenpeace campaign video. Instead of being overly graphic and shocking they should have included more context and information on which we could all act on. And not just stop buying KitKat and boycotting Nestle. We as stakeholders need to understand the overall circumstances in order to be able to make a sound judgment in my opinion. We need to know the reason why palm oil is so popular, what the situation in the producing countries is, what the Nestle point of view for not keeping control of its supply chain is, etc. This is what Greenpeace should have focused on.

So my message to Greenpeace is: Consumer activism is good but for the sake of transparency, progress and corporate accountability please also provide more information on how to solve this dilemma from a company perspective. This campaign is just like the campaigns of the past. It is time to evolve in my opinion, time to make these campaigns more effective for us as stakeholders and the involved companies.

Picture Credit: psd

No Comments

  1. Hi Fabian,interesting article but I dont completely agree with it. You are putting the focus on Greenpeace and not Nestle, the ones accused of bad practices. I don't think Greenpeace of any non-profit should 'provide more info on how to solve this dilemma from a company perspective'. It should be the company solving the dilemma of making money in a sustainable, responsible and ethical way. Lets put it in another perspective: I offer you a great biz opportunity but the production of our new product will involve child slavery and serious enviromental issues. We will make a lot of money that way, though. Since nobody noticed it so far, we can get away with our activities. One day someone discover the issue and expose us. In that moment we would answer back to them: "Hey…we want to change, but we are facing a dilemma here, because we are making money. How would you recommend to proceed?" The biz was not responsible in the first place and should have never take place, thats the thing.Nestle, or whoever, cannot keep on making money without caring on the HOW. There is no dilemma at all: they need to find a way to do it right or stop.

  2. Agreed, attacks like this don't really help companies such as kit kat become more transparent and progress, and don't really inform consumers of the issues involved either. That said, it is understandable why in an age mass communications being extreme can get a message across more easily but as you say not necessarily very effectively. To be fair there is more info on the GP site about the issues but I completely agree with your comment that 'we as stakeholders need to understand the overall circumstances in order to be able to make a sound judgment', and I think the whole campaign seems to make the issues clear cut, right and wrong which they almost never are.

  3. The video is raising awareness for one of the incredible amount of bad practices of big corporations like Nestle. When you did get attention of the public then you can tell the rest of the story, and GP did inform in their webpage with details.We cannot expect either that the consumer is aware of every actitivity of the companies, it would drive them crazy. Environmental bad practices, slavery, child labour, wars, etc, etc…Its just too much information and irresponsibility from corporations. They should be responsible in the first place and not wait if they gonna get away with it or not.

  4. Hi. Thanks for the comment. Agree with your assessment and please do not get me wrong. I have actually not been buying Nestle products for many years now because I do not believe they are a responsible business and their practices need to change. My point here is that Greenpeace also has an obligation to put this into better context. Especially when they want to attract a lot of consumers that have the purchase power. We are facing the reality that companies need to make money in order to be part of the economy and our society. Sustainability and CSR is a great way of helping companies to be more responsible internally and to evolve. Greenpeace should also consider this work by the rest of the community and that these kind of shocker campaigns can potentially destroy a lot of the Greenpeace credibility to be open for dialog.

  5. It's a debate that did happen during production of the video, but load it with too much information and it becomes a documentary. While I'm a big fan of documentaries, it wouldn't have got the same response as this (200,000+ views in less than 48 hours which is incredible for an NGO film). It's great that you want more information to base your judgements on, but as greenandgreedy pointed out it's a busy world out there and you have to go for attention-grabbing. And it got your attention.The objective of this video was to get across the idea that Nestle's activities are threatening rainforests and orang-utans, and then push them towards supporting the campaign, where much more information is readily available (eg http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/redhanded, the report our case is based on).JamieGreenpeace UK

  6. Thanks for this link Chris. I would loved to see more content of this report in the or a more informative video.

  7. Sure, but as said in my other reply, the video to me is raising awareness, thats all. GP did inform more in their website.Of course companies need to make money, but it should be in a responsibile way, there is no other option really. They will be no profitable company in a empoverished society and with environment destroyed. The argument of 'they need to make money' has been used a lot of times to justify and defend things that, really, are not defendable. If you look at Nestle CSR official comms they sound like mother theresa…so they are well aware of what they are doing (wrong) and how to cover it.

  8. Jamie, did you think to team up with other NGO to take advantage of the momentum on Nestle?There is a big issue also with cocoa child slavery which they have been denounce and a documentary on the issue will be release soon.Check out http://tinyurl.com/yaynk9x

  9. Very good point. These days our attention span is really short there is never a clean cut between right and wrong. Agreed.

  10. What you are saying is right, if all they did was put up the video. But if you check their website you have more information. You can't put all that in a video. The video is just for creating awareness and it perfectly does what its supposed to do. It doesn't matter if they made a great video or not, they have created awareness and that is all that matters. Besides GP is not some kind of encyclopedia to tell us why palm oil is used or go further into the details. Netslé buys that and it isn't good – what more do you need to act.



  11. The answer for this question, is for the COMPANY (NESTLE) NOT TO BE GREEDY! As all COMPANIES, THE main GOAL is to MAKE MONEY! This is good for you as a stakeholder, you will benefit for this. My point is, we don't need too much money!!! We as human being must also consider our environment, it is our responsibility to protect EARTH and its inhabitants! WE DONT OWN THE EARTH!!! CORPORATE GREED Must stop! People like you must know that EARTH resources is not forever!

  12. Hi Aaron. Thanks for the comment. I agree that companies like Nestle are seen as greedy. But I believe that the individuals working for the company are the ones that will be able to change the way Nestle is behaving. They are the company and when Greenpeace is doing such a shocker as a campaign this does not empower the individual employees to initiate change but actually has the opposite effect.Believe me I know that our earth has limited resources but we need to find a way to work together to make our world a better place. Shock and bloody scenes will not help in my opinion.

  13. Hi Aaron. Thanks for the comment. I agree that companies like Nestle are seen as greedy. But I believe that the individuals working for the company are the ones that will be able to change the way Nestle is behaving. They are the company and when Greenpeace is doing such a shocker as a campaign this does not empower the individual employees to initiate change but actually has the opposite effect.Believe me I know that our earth has limited resources but we need to find a way to work together to make our world a better place. Shock and bloody scenes will not help in my opinion.

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  15. What I am reading is, that you think there are other ways in which Greenpeace can play their role as an NGO. And I agree with that.
    Though Nestle can also invite for new ways to cooperate with their 
    NGO´s. 

    Being an international expert in Responsible/Sustainable Procurement, and hence working with companies like Nestle, I am constantly urging the companies to find common grounds with the NGO´s.

    By doing so, they will be able to jointly make a contribution to making the world a better place to live. Now, and for generations to come. Even also for orangotangs. Companies do have a common agenda with NGO´s and vice versa.

    Common areas could also be:
    – Pooling knowledge, competencies and relationships to build new operating standards and co-regulatory schemes.

    – Leveraging each others credibility and social networks to create access to markets and brand value.

    – Creating professional development norms, and management roles to facilitate coordination between the two sectors.

    If I was to give Expert advice to Nestle in Responsible/Sustainable Procurement, then I would advice them to do the 3 following steps:

    1) Map your NGO´s
    Start mapping your NGO´s to create an overview of whom to approach.

    2) Include NGO´s in the strategy creation process
    Involve the NGO´s in the strategy creation process. They might be able to give useful insights into how the company can drive down costs and which drivers are important to focus on.

    3) Engage the NGO´s in the company´s training programs
    Engage or pay your NGO´s to become part of the training sessions – of procurement professionals and suppliers. 

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