Facebook campaign forces Coles to recall store branded nappies
Supermarket giant, Coles, was forced to recall a line of store-brand nappies after safety concerns were raised on social media.
Alexandra Mayock posted a distressed message on Facebook after discovering her 10-month-old daughter Lily apparently choking on fibres from a Coles Dry Fit branded nappy.
"Today I went in to get Lily from her cot and there was fraying ALL OVER HER and she was CHOKING ON IT" she wrote.
Maycock posted the pictures of the nappy fibres along with a warning to parents on Facebook.
Maycock’s distressing warning continued: "This is SUCH A SAFETY HAZARD! I am still shaking - I did call Coles and complain and they happily refunded my money but what if I hadn't gone in to check her? She wasn't making any noise because she had started choking being unable to breathe because this crap was down her throat! She could have died! I had to lay her down on the bed, pry her mouth open with my fingers and scoop it all out, t was all hanging down her oesophagus. I got a really big string out. If you put any friction on the base of those nappies on the outside, it bunches up ... like you've spread open a cotton ball."
The Facebook warning about the Coles branded products went viral after it was shared more than 35,000 times in under 24 hours. Coles responded swiftly to the Facebook report, withdrawing the nappies from shelves following the public outcry from the complaint.
Photograph of product recall notice posted on Facebook.
The speed with which Maycock’s alarming post and images spread via Facebook once again highlights just how potent social media is as a tool for spreading news amongst consumers about a particular brand or product. Following the social media outcry, Coles issued a statement via Facebook, stating: "We were concerned to see the post earlier today about the issue one of our customers had with a Coles Dry Fit nappy. We know this will also be a real concern to you which is why we have immediately withdrawn the product from sale while we urgently investigate what might have caused the problem. No other nappies are affected. As always safety is our number one concern."
Maycock made complaints to official bodies such as Fair Trading, but relied on the power of social media to raise the alarm quickly, saying "I knew that if I put it on Facebook it would spread like wildfire to all the mums that need to know."
Maycock’s statement indicates a strong consumer awareness of the general power of social media and whilst Maycock raised her concerns with both Coles and the relevant government authorities, the strongest and quickest blow was served by the Facebook post.
Unfortunately this wasn’t a positive PR story for Coles particularly as it related to a house branded product and had great potential not only to cause physical harm to consumers but substantial damage to the goodwill and reputation of Coles branded products and the broader Coles brand. However, Coles’ can be attributed credit for its quick and seemingly genuine response to the matter.
This incident highlights the need for businesses to ensure that that have appropriate social media policies and procedures in place to ensure that if they are ever in Coles’ unfortunate position there are appropriate strategies in place to ensure that the matter is dealt with quickly. Our top tips for you to consider when formulating your social media strategies and policies are:
- Who will monitor your social media presence? Ensure that there are one or more persons within you organisation who is responsible for the monitoring and maintenance of any social media page platform that is associated with your business. This should also include keeping check of posts or comments about your organisation that are made on a page or profile controlled by another party.
- What if a really serious issue or complaint is raised? Ensure that there are appropriate escalation procedures in place to ensure that responses to any serious issues raised on social media are signed off by persons of proper authority to prevent an inappropriate public statement or response is issued on behalf of the company.
- Don’t bury your head in cyberspace! As the Coles incident demonstrates, negative news has the potential to spread like wildfire and cause substantial damage to your brand if not dealt with appropriately. Deleting unfavourable comments made about your brand or products or simply ignoring the same will almost always cause more damage to your brand and reputation.
If you need advice on creating a social media policy for your workplace please contact our experienced lawyers on (02) 9635 6422.