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The 2 Minute Brand

Driving Through
May 6, 2014
Destructive Intellectualism
May 8, 2014

Fast to cook and good to eat- used to be tagline in early 80ties for this 2 minutes Noodle Brand -part of India baby boome story- but now a history in the books of fast food.

N othing has gone right with Maggi till now. First, MSG and lead found across several Indian states in product samples by FSSAI, followed by now USFDA citing non-compliant to its packaging claim resulting to stock withdrawal by several grocery stories and finally ban by entire State and Govt. health department against this Swiss giant. From a healthy tasty mothers favourite recipe to that of poisoning young Indian and treating them as guinea pig is fast changing perception build around this brand of every household -- A brand which has its own legacy and story to tell.

In Fact, recently it was running an emotional campaign on this very tagline of tell your Maggi story - which now must have tuned out to be a bitter horror story pouring from across country.

So, what went wrong after 2 decades of glory- is something that intrigues a lot of brand specialist like me.So, what went wrong after 2 decades of glory- is something that intrigues a lot of brand specialist like me.

Without getting into an autopsy of what happened, let us look at possible salvage, purely from positioning, posturing and PR point, though it looks a lost war but still Maggi can give a good fight to its last battle and not necessarily succumb in 2 minute Waterloo.

To remain with Aam Aadmi, Maggi needs to think like Kejriwal and his ever winning PR tricks and theatricals but may also need to back it with sound solid proofs and testimonials.

Play the Counterfeit Story:

On 5th June in my message to Nestle CEO, I ‘d conveyed to investigate possibility of mass counterfeit that might have happened/entered in its distribution channel or from contract manufacturers or other such flip flops without knowledge of Maggi QC or Mgtm. Today, I find similar voice in TOI story as given by Nestle. post they failed in USFDA scrutiny.

Two basic questions that I keep asking to myself as a communication expert as why would an established brand/market leader do something so silly to gain mere market share? Moreover, why would they cross permissible level of MSG or for that matter any element of food preservatives or masala for taste. I do agree that they may have been non-compliant on certain packaging message related issue. So therefore, they should be candid and accept that part openly but as far as key issue is concerned it is time to play the joker in this poker game- which is to establish the fact that there has been rampart counterfeit in the distribution channel. Simultaneously, Maggi, should get its sample voluntarily checked from European health authority and then make big noise of its finding, which I am sure would be negative or rather positive for Maggi in their favour.

It is simply unbelievable that Nestle – a company known over ages for its nutrition and health products to have adulterated its own product consumed largely by children in this part of the subcontinent just for taste and to grow. The other question that I keep pondering is- how in earth no one in a country like India didn’t find any defect in all these years. This is not palatable to me, particularly knowing in this era of Ramdev baba, Sunita Narain and NGO activism. Ramdev certainly, would have made huge hue & cry along with Cola, unless he is now ready with Maggi substitute- another suspicion that I have.

Declare and accept mass counterfeit in the supply chain, play a victim of counterfeit- important to note most of the sample found and banned state are from Northern India- place where counterfeiting is rampart for food and medicine products. Get backing from EU authority, already Singapore has given clean chit, Nestle needs Europe to be in their side, get the test done from EU.

Communications in Packaging:

Go for massive corrective steps to eradicate this issue from the root case, which may be by using some advanced robust technology, no contract manufacturing, recall and then streaming entire distribution channel. Use of certain unique technology which can be verified by commoners at a shop or grocery store level to gain confidence- that we are buying genuine Maggi and not other way round.

Maggi crisis is a product of inimical competition followed/aggravated by bad PR and hence right PR tactics with mass explanation and educative campaign over social media handheld device is essential to reach out to young Indian and regain faith in them, where only story that will be accepted like how Delhi accepted --- play victim of Counterfeit and back it by test result from EU.

However, it might be too late, too little and nothing-can-be-done but Maggi should least give one try and this time with a better thoughtful PR

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