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Nestle's Facebook page gets oily
Nestle's Facebook page gets oily

Greenpeace supporters were so successful at flooding Nestle's Facebook page last year that the Kit Kat maker's social media rep publicly lashed out.

Nestle had been a longtime target of Greenpeace, which objected to the candy maker's use of palm oil that allegedly came from companies that are "trashing Indonesian rainforests ... and pushing orangutans towards extinction."

Greenpeace UK uploaded a YouTube video depicting an office worker opening a Kit Kat wrapper, pulling out an orangutan finger, and letting blood drip on his face and computer. The group then said that Nestle had asked YouTube to remove the video, citing copyright violations. Greenpeace asked its supporters to swarm Nestle's Facebook page and change their profile pictures to altered anti-Nestle logos, like "Killer" instead of "Kit Kat."

The person running the Nestle page didn't like that, posting multiple iterations of a warning: "We welcome your comments, but please don't post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic -- they will be deleted."

That inflamed even more Facebook users, who joined the pile-on -- while the Nestle rep devolved into snark and derision. Nestle's official replies included "Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced" and "Oh please .. it's like we're censoring everything to allow only positive comments."

The backlash grew exponentially over the next few hours, until the Nestle rep finally backed down: "This was one in a series of mistakes for which I would like to apologise. And for being rude. We've stopped deleting posts, and I have stopped being rude."

Two months later, Greenpeace declared "mission accomplished" when Nestle agreed to end its palm oil contract with a specific company. But for Nestle, the damage was already done. Many branding blogs used the debacle as a "how not to" case study on corporate social media. And even today, Nestle's Facebook page is peppered with negative comments from activists.

NEXT: The Red Cross gets `slizzered'
Last updated April 07 2011: 9:33 AM ET
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