Nestle and Pedobear: Let Me Google That For You

Recently, in an effort to get “down with the kids,” perpetually misguided multinational Nestle (Whose profits last year were 10.35 BILLION dollars)  launched their Instagram channel.

Because so many food brands succeed with nonsensical imagery, Nestle opted to dress someone in a bear suit, have them play the drums, and tag the photo “Drumroll please… Nestle is now on Instagram!”

So far so good, yes? The fans of Nestle’s Facebook page didn’t think so. Within minutes, commentary began to flood in regarding the striking resemblance between the Nestle bear and a certain OTHER well known, memetastic animal, PEDOBEAR.

The link tells you all you need to know, but the short strokes are: Pedobear is a powerful symbol of paedophilia online, and one that SOMEONE inside Nestle, at their Agency of Record, or even tangentially connected to this campaign should have picked up on, and raised the flag.

And yet, no one did.

Why is this so important? Well, if you set aside that the beleaguered brand might not want to be freely associated with paedophilia, it brings to light 4 things which will change the landscapes for behemoth companies lumbering along with old media ideas:

1. It’s no longer acceptable to NOT be digital. The world is plugged in. Your customers are plugged in. YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO BE IGNORANT ANY LONGER.

2. If you don’t understand memes, you don’t understand how to distribute your product quickly and efficiently in the new digital world. Memes are currency. You don’t have to love or approve of “1960s Batman.” You DO have to understand how that message is spread quickly in a digital environment. Brands who understand memes do and will continue to have the world at their feet.

3. This could have been avoided by LISTENING. Listening doesn’t just mean setting up Radian6 to hear how much people love your products, it means setting up Google Alerts, reading blogs, and generally being abreast of what is happening online, so you can cull out really shitty ideas before anyone has a chance to book the bear costume.

4. Don’t discount the younger, plugged-in staff because they don’t have enough “experience.” Their experience online could save your asses. Even if a 23-year-old account executive were to have discovered the similarity early on, they most likely didn’t have an environment where they felt they could raise this issue. This is a major fault in most large corporations, and if allowed to continue, will lead to further problems down the road.

It takes a few minutes of your time, and very little effort to stay current, and it could save your brand’s ass (unless you think an association with paedophilia is a positive thing, but I feel like Penn State has trod that ground enough lately, and it’s pretty passé.)

COMPANIES: LISTEN!! INVEST IN DIGITAL. INVEST IN UNDERSTANDING. ASK A YOUNG PERSON. Your reputation could depend on it.

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