All natural cereal brand Kashi tells us in its commercials that the company comprises “seven whole grains on a mission.” Recently, the mission in question looks like one to save the company’s face through strategic social media marketing.
The best defense is a good offense, and this is doubly true in the world of online marketing. When consumers start bombing a brand’s social media pages with complaints, smart brands use those same pages to combat the negative messages. And Kashi is currently working overtime on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to do just that. The issues for the hippie-dippy cereal started late last year when a watchdog group uncovered GMOs in Kashi’s list of ingredients. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are the last thing a shopper would expect to find in an “all natural cereal.”
The story picked up heat this month as Green Grocer, a healthy grocery store chain, dumped Kashi from its shelves. The following sign appeared on Green Grocer’s shelves: “You might be wondering where your favorite Kashi cereals have gone. It has recently come to our attention that 100 percent of the soy used in Kashi products is genetically modified, and that when the USDA tested the grains used there were found to be pesticides that are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors.”
Soon social media outlets were abuzz with Kashi criticism. The brand’s Facebook page was plundered with posts from angry consumers who felt like they’d been duped by the company. Kashi, which is owned by cereal magnet Kellogg’s, hustled to convince consumers that everything was okay and that GMOs aren’t harmful, even if they aren’t natural. The company released a video late last week on YouTube featuring a Kashi nutritionist and team member named Keegan who reads from a script about the “inaccurate information being circulated online about Kashi ingredients.” The brand has taken to Twitter and Facebook to post the video and to address any product concerns.
Has Kashi’s offense worked? It might be too early to tell, but once a brand has betrayed its image, it is extremely hard to win consumers back. Especially on social media. The Facebook shopper and Twitter critic aren’t easily swayed by corporate moves and they are in no hurry to help a brand restore its name. Also, we live in an era where consumers love to roast a hypocrite and Kashi, with its all natural claims, looks like just that to the average shopper. The big unfortunate fact for Kashi is that in the instant information age, you can’t get away with hiding things from the public. One way or another, it’s going to get out — and when it does, you better be ready to embark on a mission to save your image.