This year has been a nightmare for one of the country’s most popular brand of noodles from Nestle. The horror began when Maggi was banned on June 5 and asked to withdraw all its variants following a Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) order that accused the instant noodles of having lead and monosodium glutamate above permissible limits.
Although Nestle had moved the High Court saying that the MSG is from naturally occurring sources and that lead was well within the permissible limit, tons of noodle packets were recalled from all parts of the country. In the quarter ending June, Maggi reported its first quarterly loss in at least 17 years.
On August 13, the ban was set aside by the court but it asked Maggi to undergo a retest at labs certified by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration. Maggi was given 6-weeks to prove it is safe for human consumption.
Now Maggi has cleared the retest and will soon be available on store shelves. The nightmare may have ended for Maggi but regaining consumer trust is an uphill task. Primarily because Indian mothers everywhere are concerned whether in the guise of a convenience food, they are feeding lead and MSG to their children.
Secondarily, its celebrity brand endorsers no more want to be associated with the brand. Actress, mother and then face of the brand, Madhuri Dixit Nene had to face the music following the ban and the massive negative PR generated for Maggi.
Welcome back, Maggi!
All throughout the ban when Maggi was striving hard to be back on shelves, the instant noodles brand never closed the doors of communication with its consumers. In fact, it serenaded them with tribute videos showing gratitude to its fans that were heavy on storytelling and emotional overtones.
Maggi has been systematically rolling out films in each phase of its ban status. It has also ensured to address varied consumer segments in its video series – young boys and girls living in hostels, bachelor pads to the Indian moms who’ve been making Maggi for their kids ever since it’s been there.
Nestle India had rolled out a series of short films hashtagged #WeMissYouToo when it waited for the test results. Dedicated to all the fans who supported and stood by the brand, there was a Maggi fanboy/fangirl in each of the videos, who badly missed their favourite noodle. They are seen making a plea to Maggi, as if it were their long lost friend – “Come back, man!”, “Ab a bhi jao”, “kab wapas aayega yaar?”, “We miss you Maggi“.
In ‘Menu Cards’, this guy is absolutely depressed with having to order from restaurants, ever since Maggi isn’t on shelves:
In ‘Neighbours’, this guy confesses that he never bothered about his sweet neighbours earlier. But now he is forced to make eye contact with them and be friendly.
In ‘Boyfriend’, this girl and her boyfriend have begun to have fights as to who will cook now, with their saviour Maggi no more in the picture.
In ‘Pitaji’, this daughter talks about how her father used to be a proud man once, when he would make Maggi for the entire family and announce it loud.
After its newly manufactured stocks were also cleared by NABL accredited laboratories, the brand launched a new video series featuring mothers.
These mothers share about their journey with Brand Maggi over the years and how the instant noodles that was their rescue food once, also safe for their children, then became a cause for concern after the ban. The films end with the mothers talking about Maggi clearing the test, and proving their earlier conviction about Maggi was always right.
‘Late night’ tells the story of a mom who’s son is used to making himself a bowl of Maggi to cater to his night hunger pangs. Happy with the test results, she declares it as her victory.
‘Balcony’ shows a younger Maggi mom who’s mom also used to feed her Maggi, which made her think whether two moms could be wrong. She is relieved and happy that she and her mom were always right.
Can storytelling save the brand?
Stories do have the power to move you but the world is also filled with fake stories. You never know which ones to be moved by and which ones to move away from. Maggi has tried its best to ‘be real’ though when the news about the MSG and lead created a scary buzz, the brand was only giving away standard responses to those who expressed their concern on social media.
Little did Maggi know then, that it would be banned soon and coming back to shelves and regaining consumer trust and loyalty would be its topmost priority soon. The press statement released then lacked an official signature, implying how nobody from the management wanted to stand with the brand in its bad times. Then how would its consumers stand by it?
Maggi picked up from there on and slowly seems to have found its footing back in the country. An update from Suresh Narayanan, CMD, Nestle India, states how happy he is to be handing over Maggi to whom it belongs – its consumers. Sadly, this has happened only after successfully clearing the NABL test. Now it has tied up with Snapdeal for an exclusive ‘Dil ki Deal’ where fans can register for the limited period Maggi welcome kits.
— Nestlé India (@NestleIndia) November 9, 2015
— Maggi India (@MaggiIndia) November 10, 2015
Maggi has a long way to go before completely shedding off all that fear of MSG and lead, but the brand is sure doing its best to allay consumer fears. The Snapdeal launch has a dedicated FAQ page to answer all consumer queries regarding the product and what’s added to it.