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Nestlé India rebuilds battered image

News, 28 July 2015

NEW DELHI: Following a food scare centred on its Maggi noodles brand, Nestlé India is taking steps to shore up its reputation with a new advertising and social media campaign.

The FMCG giant also announced that Suresh Narayanan, former head of Nestlé's operations in The Philippines, will replace Etienne Benet following reports that food safety inspectors had found excess traces of lead in the popular Maggi brand.

Since being engulfed in the ensuing scandal for more than a month, Nestlé India is determined to improve its image with consumers and all its stakeholders.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Narayanan said his immediate goal is to rebuild the company's brand "brick-by-brick, consumer-by-consumer and employee-by-employee".

Although Nestlé is challenging a court order to remove Maggi noodles from sale, insisting they are safe to eat, consumer reaction has been strongly negative.

In a bid to win shoppers over, Narayanan confirmed that the company is planning an advertising and social media campaign with the central message that its products are safe.

Nestlé also will engage with all the suppliers, distributors and noodle factory workers who have been left out of work since the scandal erupted.

"Nestlé India is not 'on the brink' and I want to say this with all the emphasis I can muster," he told the Economic Times as part of his media blitz.

"Yes, we face a challenging situation, but I am confident that we will resolve this issue through engagement with all stakeholders," Narayanan added.

Wan Ling Martello, executive vp at Nestlé who is overseeing the transition in India, went on to tell the Economic Times that she thought Narayanan would be "perfect" for the job because of his people skills.

"As the recall process comes to a close, we are looking at rebuilding," she said. "It is very much about how we can take Nestlé India to the next phase of our journey."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff