Abid Hussain Barlaskar

How should Maggi leverage its earned media?

Stuck at home, people are talking about the noodles brand on the internet. While some are complaining about unavailability, others are being creative.

Nestle’s instant noodle brand Maggi has been in the Indian market for close to four decades now. The brand has almost turned into a household staple, a compulsory item in Indian kitchen cabinets.

In June 2015, Maggi was banned by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for five months for allegedly containing lead beyond the permissible limit. This crisis caused a significant drop in the brand’s market share.

Maggi’s withdrawal from the market triggered a user generated social media campaign, with netizens expressing their longing for the brand. Maggi esponded with a series of ad films with the tagline ‘We Miss You Too’, owning up all the earned attention. Later, on October 19, 2015, four days after the brand was cleared by the Bombay High Court, Nestle ran a front-page print campaign, with the reassuring copy 'Your Maggi is safe, and has always been'.

Thanks to its ‘essential’ stature, the product is also among the first ones to fly off the shelves in times of crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is among the few brands that thrive on earned media. The brand recently released a video assuring people that efforts are being made to make Maggi available to all. At the same time, social media is rife with Maggi conversations. Maggi quarantine, Maggi with moong sprouts, Maggi pakoda, Maggi versus roti, and so on.

So, when we are amidst a crisis, how should Maggi make the most of the organic mentions? Or, should it, at all?

Lloyd Mathias, angel investor and business strategist (former Asia-Pacific marketing head of HP Inc; CMO, Motorola; and executive VP and category director, PepsiCo India)

During troubled times like the lockdown, when everyone is confined to their homes and missing domestic help, many have retreated to comfort food like Maggi noodles. Maggi - which has been part of the lives of Indians for years - now has a great opportunity to reassure its consumers about its versatility, ease of preparation and safety – given the crisis it faced five years ago.

Lloyd Mathias
Lloyd Mathias

Also, with many celebrities uploading pictures on social media about whipping up a quick meal with Maggi, it will get a lot of organic mentions. Maggi can build on this to drive home its stature as India’s ‘go to’ food. Genuine consumer endorsement is always positive for a brand, and this Corona crisis is giving Maggi an opportunity of a lifetime.

Mythili Chandrasekar, a consumer behaviour and brand strategy enthusiast (former planner with JWT)

Mythili Chandrasekar
Mythili Chandrasekar

Maggi’s earned media seems to be largely around consumer brand love stories, consumer and influencer generated recipes, and - a smaller, but unique part - branded small food joints. The brand actually should not make obvious efforts to leverage these overtly, but stay subtle. Food joints and Google Maps could be an opportunity. ‘Just Maggi’ food carts could become part of street culture. The brand must find ways to take online earned media to offline selling… Maggie is uniquely positioned to mobilise its large fan base to take on "hunger" as a cause.

Jyothsna Yalapalli, a brand consultant and strategic planner (has worked with JWT, Lowe Worldwide, Havas Worldwide, The Womb, and McCann)

Maggi leveraging organic social media conversations runs the risk of being perceived as a selfish motive. Brands need to be seen as generous, just like people themselves want to be. People, despite having a will, are unable to do so, but Nestle can. As a brand, Maggi has a very strong stature and can take initiative or partner with others to provide food for daily wagers, migrant families/workers. It does not necessarily mean feeding Maggi, but food.

Jyotsna Yalapalli
Jyotsna Yalapalli

This could position Maggi as socially responsible... Can Nestle partner with the government to deliver food to the ones in need? Even if it is for a few days. This would generate a huge amount of PR value and brand love, and this would last long. Maggi does have negative equity from an unhealthy indulgence food perspective. This will earn good values. It will have a long-lasting impact on the brand, and will bear results once the crisis is over.

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