It’s strange that right after having been served with a notice by the apex consumer court over the government’s Rs.640 crore class action suit related to its controversial Maggi noodles, Nestlé India chose to celebrate its 100 years in the country with a 90-second digital film. But, the Swiss giant completed 100 years of its existence in India in 2012 itself.
Per the company’s press release dated January 13, 2012, Nestlé’s first sales agents in India began work in Chennai and Kolkata in 1912. It built its first Indian factory in Moga in 1961, developing milk production in the region. The company stated that all its efforts are part of what it calls ‘Creating Shared Value’, an approach to business that aims to create value for shareholders at the same time as for those communities where the company operates.
What the company forgot to include while creating value is - its consumers. On June 5, Nestlé’s instant noodles brand Maggi had to face a ban for having been found with excessive levels of added monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead. Nestle had moved the High Court saying that the MSG is from naturally occurring sources and that lead was well within the permissible limit.
While tons of noodle packets were recalled from all parts of the country and burnt, the case went on. 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.
A week later, Nestlé India rolled out a series of short films hashtagged #WeMissYouToo dedicated to all the fans who supported and stood by the brand. There’s a Maggi fanboy in each of the videos, who badly misses his favourite noodle and makes a plea to Maggi, as if it were his long lost friend – “Come back, man!”, “Ab a bhi jao”, “kab wapas aayega yaar?”
Apparently, the brand is trying all the tricks in the book of advertising, in a desperate move to regain consumer trust.
The new film titled “Nestle: A Part of India’s Life for 100 Years’ has been conceptualized by McCann Erickson. It takes us back in time showing the journey of Nestle in India, starting from 1912, with key historic events marking India - the announcement of India’s independence, the World Cup victory in 1983, Rakesh Sharma’s space travel, among others.
It features all the products by the brand like Milkmaid, Nescafe, Milky bar, Kit Kat, and Nestle’s milk, but, understandably, does not feature Maggi!
The film is a strategic move to showcase its love and bond with the country for more than a century. The poetic language, the emotional overtones, the storytelling is bang on; about how it will win over its lost consumers is a story only time will tell.
Nestlé India is only three years late in celebrating a century of existence in the country, but it talks volumes about its confidence.