Cadbury on the Beef: Was Mondelez’s Crisis Management Strategy Convincing Enough to Regain Consumers’ Confidence?


  • Mondelez India found itself in a soup on Sunday after a few screenshots surfaced on Twitter suggesting its Cadbury Dairy Milk may contain beef-derived gelatin.
  • Cadbury was quick to respond to his row over beef in chocolates, clarifying that the screenshots posted on social media were of the company’s international products and that all of its Indian products are vegetarian.
  • We speak with branding and public relations experts to discuss Cadbury’s crisis management strategy and what else the brand should do to regain consumer confidence.

After screenshots suggesting that Mondelez’s Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolates may contain beef-derived gelatin that appeared on social media platforms in India on Sunday, Mondelez India took to Twitter to clarify that its products in India are all vegetarians. He said the screenshots released were of the company’s products sold overseas. Trolls were quick to call for a boycott of all Mondelez products, but some users even pointed out that the screenshot shared is from the Cadbury Australia website.

After issuing a public statement to mitigate the outcry, Mondelez decided to respond to all tweets with its official statement that the green dot on its packaging means it is 100% vegetarian. However, instead of engaging with netizens one-on-one and answering their questions, Cadbury decided to use its modeled statement everywhere. Share the best ways to deal with such a crisis, especially when the brand may not be at fault, or “has a plausible and credible counterpoint to appease the crux of the crisis,” said Karthik Srinivasan, expert in social media and freelance communications consultant, “Don’t use share statements and make them a response to just anyone and everyone.” Prioritize a few top-notch voices that cause maximum damage and engage with them contextually and in the form of a conversation on the medium in which they are active. This requires good social media monitoring tools (to determine who are the primary voices causing or deserving to do most of the damage) and a cross-functional team made up of public relations and communications (agency and client side) and legal. Most importantly, this group must be empowered to make real-time decisions for the brand to have an online conversation with its detractors. Dilip Cherian, Consulting Partner, Perfect Relations advised consulting company-owned media first. He said: “Responding a bit late triggers a bit of panic, but ultimately everything seems to have gone well. It might also be helpful for Cadburys to acknowledge that in the future, to have more details on their process. specific to India and the safety factor needs to be built into it. Product specifications for the Indian market could be highlighted on its own media. This is something that we at Perfect Relations have been advocating quite strongly lately . With the rise of fake news and its tremors, the most obvious place for customers or to trigger happy influencers, all are scouring company-owned media. Cadburys need to check, even now, if the Indian site is enough powerful to solve its possible problems.

Many brands have recently fallen victim to the boycott culture on social media and many of them bow down and keep a low profile to cushion the blow. Cadbury decided to address the concerns and face the situation head-on. Gone are the days when a brand could hope for it to die naturally and wait for consumers to move on. A small trend can snowball, and a little ignorance can lead a huge amount of audiences to boycott a brand for good. At the same time, logic dictates that brands don’t get involved in arguments or cheap shots as this tends to feed trolls.

Suggesting the best solution, Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner, Nucleus PR said, “A measured response is the best way forward. However, the brand of the measure can only be decided by the brand based on its consumer profile and industry.

She said when a brand finds itself in a PR crisis like Cadbury, it should go all out on social media. Sharing how Cadbury can still undo the damage done, Rattan added, “Add Linkedin to the mix so they can get Corporate Inc behind them. Engage with the editorial media to help them share their side of the story with an interesting bite or two sprinkled with nuts and nuggets (no pun intended). Create a statement that appears on their website and social media pages, as well as a newsletter sent to all internal and external stakeholders. Reach out to fact-checking websites / handles and ask them to do their own checks and publish them. Add a dose of mild humor (in true Cadbury style) by engaging reel influencers and use it as an opportunity to turn that into positive PR for them.

You sleep, you lose

Cherian said a business should get back to its Twitter trolls within an hour. “Businesses, in today’s hyper-connected world, can be quickly quashed or boycotted, for all the right reasons. But what really constitutes a crisis, and one that strikes from the ground, is when it’s totally based on bad reasons. Cadburys fell victim to a classic case of this with the generic claim that its chocolates made in India contained beef components. There is an element of malice here, but by those that are trying to create a feeling to ride with. Speed ​​is the most important ingredient in dealing with a crisis like this as these issues have been dealt with many times before, so there is no reason why there is even almost an hour of delay in picking up malicious tweets that sought to confuse sales and customers. The fact that the company chose to clarify directly to the person pushing the offending tweet is a good one. th thing. But at Perfect Relations, we would have opted for a faster but generic tweet. that would have been even better. And the time factor must be taken into account. We now live in a 24/7 world and a crisis can erupt anywhere and anytime. There is no time to stop to meditate and procrastinate. Getting the right message across very quickly is essential. In my opinion, Cadburys was successful in preventing the garbage from growing. But some hits hurt, ”Cherian said.

Srinivasan also said that if a crisis begins and continues on social media, conversations on Twitter need to be fast and in real time. “Delays in responding to specific questions could give the impression that the brand has something to hide. A brand name on social media is just that – a brand name, without a human voice. So when trying to add a factual counterpoint, it would be best to name a credible and verifiable individual (LinkedIn’able!) As the person behind the counterpoint.


When Fortune Oil was caught in a slump earlier this year, after its brand ambassador Sourav Ganguly suffered a mild heart attack, he immediately released a statement claiming he would continue to work with Ganguly. After a few days, she launched a personalized print ad written by her ambassador Ganguly to clarify that there are multiple reasons that can affect heart health.

In Cadbury’s case, this is just a note from the brand’s official Twitter page and Srinivasan pointed out that “when sharing a factual response as a stock statement, which says it matters “. For example, if the answer Cadbury is currently using were attributed to the CEO of India, it would carry more weight. Due to the immensity of information available on social media, many such crises come and go. Add to that the attention span of people which keeps on decreasing. However, a Google search can still bring up stories around such controversies with just one search, which could cause people to change their minds about a particular product. Thus, sustainable brands, consumer goods or luxury brands must be extra careful when managing a “small” public relations crisis. Srinivasan added, “It is important to highlight the brand’s counterpoint in a powerful way so that future readers see both sides of the controversy and can make up their minds unambiguously. ”

Mondelez is sure to shoot a ‘Maggi’
and hire a great celebrity to cover damage and communicate how safe their products are.

For his future communication, Rattan advised: “On a consistent basis, he should continue to talk about safety and health. Cadbury is not new to this area and has faced a crisis before. But they stopped talking about hygiene in their global campaigns once the immediate threat was overcome. Brand conversations that touch on safety and health should be a norm, not a crisis response, especially for a brand consumed by all ages, including children. Keep hammering it and then some.


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