Recently activist organisation Greenpeace mounted a social media campaign to pressure consumer goods giant, Nestle into using only sustainably produced palm oil. Nestle handled the campaign with a spectacularly low degree of social media skill and in direct result are now in a situation where there is increasing public hostility towards their operation, most notably on Nestle’s Facebook Pages.

Nestle Campaign Logo by Greenpeace

Nestle Campaign Logo by Greenpeace

Nestle went on to get such a hammering not only by consumers angry with their policies and activists targeting their supply chain, the marketing media soon caught wind of Nestle’s difficulties (such as trying to tell Facebook users they were on a Nestle run forum and that Nestle would enforce it’s rules on those posting on their wall – see the Nestle #fail details and screenshots here). Consequently they gained even more bad attention. Nestle then asked Google to remove a video from YouTube which in true “Do no evil” style, Google did which resulted in a flurry of users reposting the video to YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing networks. There is a full gory, visual Nestle #fail presentation here.

Nestle’s share price started to take a dent, especially when trading opened on the 19th (the Facebook fiasco got heated on the 18th):

Nestle Share Price

Nestle Share Price

At the same time shares in sustainable palm oil producer, New Britain Palm Oil, who are a major player in the Sustainable Palm Oil Roundtable, have risen. I won’t exaggerate and say it was all from this; NBPO had risen strongly in announcement to earlier moves the company had made regarding sustainable production and it seems that this campaign helped rather than made their momentum (Greenpeace kicked off on the 17th March). However NBPO have climbed a happy 20 points in one week and 60 in the month since they announced a sharp drop in profits on the 24th Feb. Clearly, this since run is not based on actual profits, it must be based on other factors.

New Britain Palm Oil Share Price

New Britain Palm Oil Share Price

Is this the first time a social media campaign has altered the stock market? After all, what we are seeing here is not news per se; we’d expect a story like Steve Jobs’ bad health to dent the share price of Apple, a crew strike to hit BA or an infrastructure hack to rattle Google. However what we are seeing here is opinion, mass consumer opinion, aggregated and mounting up. The fact that a huge corporation uses cheap ingredients, many of which are of dubious origin ethically, is not news. If sufficient opinion can be vented through social media channels, what are the implications for share prices, stock traders, arbitrage services and brand marketers?

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