Anger. Denial. Disappointment.
Those are some of the feelings people see and display when something we love is changed. How would you feel if your mother is suddenly changing your grandmother’s 100 year-old recipe that tastes just perfect as it is?
When “New Coke” was introduced in 1985, those three feelings that Coke fans felt caused a huge backlash. A flock of angry and disappointed letters were sent to the company, and according to Thomas Oliver, the author of “The Real Coke, The Real Story“, a psychiatrist that Coke hired to figure out the problem told the company that the people behind these letters and calls sounded as if they were discussing the death of a family member.
The New Coke story was the first thing that crossed my mind when I read about Nestle’s adjustment to “improve” their 73-year-old recipe. Except that it’s 2010, and the internet, and social media in particular, are here to save the day. Nestle are making good use of the fact that they can make their consumers share the excitement about this new recipe, rather than wait for a backlash.
The Idea: Haggle Over the Recipe
The idea is quite simple. Tricia Bowles, spokesperson for Nestle, explains the idea as such: “Nestle Crunch lets fans of all ages feel like kids again, so you can bet they have definite opinions about what we’ve changed in our secret recipe. Some firmly believe we’ve made the milk chocolate more intense and rich, while others are equally confident that the rice crispies are packed with more crunch than ever before.”
Does the answer lie in the chocolate or the rice crispies? Well, that’s for them to know and for us consumers to haggle about — the company is actively encouraging people to share their feedback on YouTube, Facebook, and their hotline.
Combining the power of viral video and the power of sports stars, Nestle launched two videos around Christmas featuring Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno. In these videos, these two stars are basically arguing over what the secret “improvement is”:
Nestle also created a Facebook fanpage with an application called “The Crunch Challenge“, where Facebookers can play for their favorite team: “Team Crispies”, represented by Shawn Johnson and “Team Chocolate” represented by Apolo Ohno. You support your team by playing a heavily branded “quiz game”. The quiz game comes with an incentive, if a chocolate bar is considered one, as Nestle gave away 1,000 crunch bars a day to their Facebook fans, when they signed up for the Challenge. Players have to earn a total of at least 1,000 points in one or more games while there are still bars available to be won.
Buzz Generated: Positively Buzzing
YouTube: For an account that was created on YouTube a mere two weeks ago, a million total upload views is quite impressive.
Facebook: During the same period, the videos was “liked” by around 4,000 people. As of mid January, 2010, the Facebook group has 207,290 fans.
The reactions were also overwhelmingly positive, if not many, as far as comments go on their Facebook and YouTube video pages and wall.
Lessons Learned: Nostalgia is the Key
Nestle successfully managed to capitalize on the emotions people feel towards a chocolate bar that’s been around since childhood. They made people welcome the change by encouraging a family-like guessing game, without giving away the secret.
It’s really quite simple: it’s the nostalgia. Nestle allowed us to feel like kids again, on a road trip with our families, arguing over something so small and pointless that really matters when you’re a child. This also reflects on their slogan: “for the kid in you.”
Yet, Nestle could have reached a bigger audience if they chose another two pairs of celebrities from a world beyond sports, like musicians, for example. Although the sports analogies works very well for “Team Chocolate” and “Team Crispies”, music tends to be liked universally, especially on the Web.
A Guitar Hero spoof would have also worked brilliantly with Facebook and YouTube audiences.