Maggi matters

HARISH BIJOOR | Updated on January 24, 2018

Needs must Eternal vigilance is the need of the hour

Maggi matters

Did Nestle handle the Maggi controversy correctly?


Nagrathna, I have promoted your question on my long list of outstanding questions yet to be answered. This is the topic of the day, if not yesterday.

I do believe the need of the day is to address the issue squarely. On this count, Nestlé took time. However, as of this moment the company has handled the issue well enough. The key issue in a crisis of this kind is communication. Communication that packs clarity, and sifts fiction from fact.

Each of the stakeholders needs a different degree of communication. Communication to the regulator, traditional media, social media and consumer needed to be quick, forever on and active. More active than what was seen.

The Maggi controversy was played out on national television of both the general and business kind for three whole days. Today brands cannot escape the scathing and scything on television and social media. If you are not agile, you need to pay the price. At times, an unfair price of your reputation eroding. I do not believe Maggi deserves the kind of reputation-bashing it saw in the last few weeks, though.

Social media is the new reality as well. No corporate and brand entity is perfect and infallible. You need to have the ability to manage the tender and weak points of possibilities in this day and age. Action on social media needs to be quick and literally ready.

The learning of this case is that eternal vigilance is the need of the day.

Brand ambassadors are in the news again with Maggi. Are they at fault?

New Delhi

Gopi, this business of including brand ambassadors in culpability is all about the concept of “extended liability” kicking in. In reality the manufacturer is the first entity that is liable for any default. And that is limited and specific liability. After this, the person selling it comes into purview. To that extent any retailer selling it could be considered participating in the action of sales and promotion. And then, of course, the brand ambassador, as he or she touts the product on mediough.

Expect some change ahead. I would even recommend to the marketer the resurrection of the brand mascot instead of the live brand ambassador.

Brands in the future will get cartoon characters such as Fido Dido, Gattu and Goody the Tiger of yore, to endorse their brands, maybe. Touché.

There is a new Air India mascot now. What’s your reaction?


Joseph, the new effort is a bit forced. The old Maharajah was a metaphor, and was never really meant to be taken literally. This Maharajah was a metaphor for Indian hospitality. Otherwise, tell me which Maharajah holds his hand to heart and bends in obeisance to a potential fare-paying passenger? Which Maharajah is really so accessible? Which Maharajah is ever so polite? This Maharajah was a cuddly old purser at large. Look at him keenly before you write him off and kill him totally. To me, he was Maharaj the purser rather than The Maharajah of an Indian principality.

The new Maharaja now: This is a guy forced on the poorairline. Half the size of his great-granddad, completely jumbled in his attire and totally foxed out of his wits. This is what happens when Tintin marries the old Maharajah and produces an offspring. Also, revamping logos is easy. Replacing iconic mascots is a more difficult exercise.

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Published on June 18, 2015
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