Mars Recall – An online perspective

This week Mars made a drastic but vital move to protect its long term reputation when it recalled products from 55 countries after a piece of plastic was found in a Snickers bar in Germany.

With the news breaking on Tuesday, concerned consumers flocked online searching for information. In the UK alone there were 20K+ google searches for “Mars Recall”, placing it as the 9th most searched UK term. Meanwhile on social media there were over 11k mentions of the Mars recall, with 86% of these occurring on Twitter, mostly fuelled by mainstream news coverage. The Mars website took the brunt of this, failing to cope with the pressure of concerned consumers and ultimately leading to a number of pages going down for two hours.

So this is sounding like the makings of an online disaster, but what did Mars do to address the situation?

Mars quickly responded by posting information on the UK’s Food Standards Authority website and placing a statement across all of its social media channels. Nothing too unexpected from a typical crisis response, but what was really impressive was the company’s ability to respond not just in real time to consumers’ questions but in multiple languages. Plus, they ensured that all posts were personalised, warm in tone and tailored to specific questions.

With this issue coinciding with the launch of Facebook’s new reaction buttons, this could have provided a chance for consumers to vent their anger at the issue. The new reaction buttons were created to give users more ways to share their reactions to Facebook posts allowing them to tell their friends not that they just ‘like’ something but how they really feel (as long as they fall into the remit of “haha”, “wow,” “love,” “sad,” or “angry”!). So a perfect testing ground for consumers to really showcase their disappointment at Mars. Interestingly, among those that used the new reaction buttons, only 2% were negative. This could have been due to a lack of knowledge from users, but personally I feel that this is a good indicator of the swift and professional social media response from the Mars corporate team.

In the long term, only time will tell what the impact will be on the brand’s reputation and bottom line. With the issue coinciding with the lead up to Easter and the fact that their products are mainly purchased by mums, it will be interesting to see how the brand looks to regain customer trust going forward.

Claire Twohill
Head of Digital

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