Think You Can Avoid The Conversation?

Think again. The epic failure of Kraft’s new iSpread 2.0 is the perfect example of the way the Internet has changed the way we communicate which in turn has changed the way we need to run and promote our businesses.

Don’t believe me? After running a nationwide competition to name their new Vegemite and cheese spread Kraft announced the new name, iSnack 2.0, on Saturday at the AFL Grand Final. The name was met with resounding horror. And so the conversation began. The Internet became abuzz with people Tweeting, blogging and even creating Facebook hate pages. People hated the name and were not afraid to say so. So much so that Kraft are now rethinking the name. Epic failure indeed.

There are some valuable lessons that can be taken from this example. In 1999 Chris Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger and Rick Levine wrote “The Cluetrain Manifesto”. Apart from the attention grabbing line on the cover “the end of business as usual” it’s ideas turned the idea of business on it’s head. In summary they state that customers talk and the Internet finally gives these customers a powerful medium to talk on. If businesses want to do well in the future they need to become part of this conversation. It was not a conversation they could control and one where “marketing hype” and “corporate speak” are detected with alarming speed. Not only did they need to be part of the conversation they needed to talk to their customers authentically. And they needed to listen to their customers and their conversations. If customers didn’t like the service or thought a product was crap they could speak out and thousands, if not millions of people heard.

Back to iSnack 2.0. The customer has spoken. They hate the name and they aren’t afraid to say so. And Kraft have finally listened. Not 5 days after the announcement of the name they have canned it and gone back to the drawing board. It’s a good decision and great to see that they have listened to their customers but one wonders why they didn’t start the conversation earlier. It would have saved a lot of time and money. And face.

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