Post MSG controversy, Maggi initiates Mass Auto-Response protocol

Update – May 20, 2015: Maggi has added another ‘digital’ relic to its auto-response protocol… the PDF file! See update at the end of this post.

So our beloved Maggi is going through hell, courtesy this news report.

?Maggi? under regulatory scanner for lead, MSG beyond permissible limit

What does Maggi do? It looks at the increased mentions of Maggi and MSG on social media – Twitter, in particular – and activates MAR protocol. Mass Auto Response… MAR.


Result? Maggi’s ‘Tweets & Replies‘ looks like a trainwreck. The text is exactly same, across 200+ tweet replies so far, but there are minor changes depending on the sleep-depravity of the team member involved.

Text #1:
“We do not add MSG to MAGGI noodles. Some ingredients may contain naturally occurring Glutamate, which can be mistaken for MSG.” – perfect grammar and formatting. Person with coffee is in charge.

Text #2:
“we do not add MSG to MAGGI noodles. Some ingredients may contain naturally occurring Glutamate, which can be mistaken for MSG.” – starts with a small ‘w’ unlike Text #1. Needs more coffee.

Text #3:
“We do not add MSG to MAGGI noodles.Some ingredients may contain naturally occurring Glutamate,which can be mistaken for MSG” – the lack of space after the fullstop after the word ‘noodles’ in the sentence perhaps indicates low coffee levels in the copy-paster involved.

Earlier, on May 11th, Maggi was seen using Twitter with a legal-approved stock statement that it responded as an image. This.


Jokes apart, what is the best course of action on social media, for something as damaging as this, for Maggi? If the objective is to let as many people know as possible that Maggi is indeed free of MSG and is safe, they’d perhaps need to use broadcast media that reaches a lot more people – TV and print, for example.

Johnson and Johnson did, in this effort post Maharashtra FDA seeking a ban.

Coca-Cola and Cadbury’s used Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, respectively, to communicate how safe the products are.

I’m sure Maggi/Nestle has this move in the pipeline, perhaps with Madhuri Dixit as the spokesperson, since she already is part of the Maggi Oats campaign.

That’s broadcast, one-way communication – easy to manage since nobody is going to question you.

On social media? I particularly felt sad when Maggi’s MAR protocol responded to a silly joke of mine, with their stock statement.


And to everyone who merely uttered those two words together – Maggi and MSG. That is sad. And awkward. Almost trying to replicate broadcast on social media.

Is it wrong? Of course not.

Does it feel awkward? Sure, it does. Because social media conversations can be contextual. So, a machine, or a process-driven team cannot infer context from what people seem to be opining vs. what people are merely sharing with no opinion of their own.

If someone shares a Times of India piece about Maggi and MSG, does it mean he/she will not buy Maggi in the future? Can’t say, really.

On the contrary, does a stock statement posted as reponse to anyone tweeting those two words together assuage them enough to go, ‘Oh, Maggi has said so, itself. THE Maggi has spoken. The news must be wrong – lemme rush to the nearby store and buy Maggi… yippee yay’.

(Sorry – ‘Yippee’ may not be something the person would utter, given it is a rival brand name.)

You see both scenarios?

I understand that responding to people who have expressed concern or shared someone else’s concern in the same platform where they expressed it is a good idea, in principle. But, without looking at the context of what they are saying and merely going by a sweeping ‘find all mentions of Maggi + MSG or Maggi + Lead and respond with stock lines’ seems like a potentially bad idea.

So, what should Maggi do?

Here’s a thought-starter.

If Maggi is going to pull a Coca-Cola – Aamir or Cadbury – Amitabh style campaign, they’d surely hire a team of professionals to research the background, plan a convincing narrative on what would make people trust the spokesperson and the brand, and script it really well, with the best choice of sentences and words for maximum empathy and connect.

If so much effort goes into crafting a response in mass/broadcast media, why is so little effort going into crafting a response on Twitter/social media?

Let’s imagine the reasons.

Because social media is full of kids who don’t know better?

Because everything is fleeting and forgotten quickly on social media?

Because that’s what real-time interaction is about – say something quickly without bothering about what and how it is framed?

Because we have invested in a tool to monitor social media and in a real-time newsroom and we need to quickly put it to use by ‘find-all and MAR protocol?’

Because this is what the client is willing to offer, as budgets, while they’d most definitely plonk a few crores to create the print ad and TVC?

And to think everyone wants a viral!


Social media strategy is not just running contests on Twitter, trending and mashing up content calendars.

This situation by Maggi is a great example of the need to have someone with real experience in public relations and marketing deciding on a course of action on how to craft responses that do not sound like a bot.

That tries to make an effort to have a conversation, instead of making it sound like a copy-paste chore.

To let every single tweet work towards a purpose.

To keep track of influential voices that opine on the issue and engage them on a mature, fact-based and logical conversation in an honest effort change perception.

Unfortunately, all the folks with real experience in PR and marketing seem to be in Maggi’s ad agency or its PR firm, and not anywhere near its social media command center.

Update – May 20, 2015: Yesterday, Maggi started customizing the tweets with assorted text to not sound like a bot. That’s a #win, for sure, but it also added a link (URL) in response to people talking about Maggi+MSG or Maggi+Lead. It leads to a <insert gasp> PDF file! Yes, a PDF file.

I do hope Maggi team knows that it is easy to embed an image that has text, so that people do not need to go out of the Twitter UI to read Maggi’s statement. Like this.

Also, that PDF is a plain, blank page. Yes, a blank page with no logo and just 4 paragraphs of text. Imagine the equivalent in a TVC. Madhuri Dixit reading off a page in a droning, emotionless tone. Or a print ad, which is just 4 paragraphs of text with no header, footer or logo. So, why would Maggi think it is perfectly appropriate to share a blank page with 4 paragraphs of text to win over customers? The least they could do is design the page, with images of our favorite noodles (I’m not being sarcastic here – I love Maggi!), logos of Maggi and Nestle, to add credibility and decent fonts for the text. The point is, give this as much thought as you’d to a TVC or a print ad.