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Author’s Blurb: A while ago, we wrote an article about Jobbie Nut Butter’s Facebook post that was calling for support through pre-orders, as they claimed that they were going bankrupt. Now, however, a few things were brought to our attention regarding the situation, so we decided to check it.

On April 23, 2020, Facebook user Nick made a post (with information reposted from another user) regarding Jobbie Nut Butter’s recent post about their potential bankruptcy.

He detailed several points he noticed about what Jobbie Nut Butter said in theirs, and shared instances that shed suspicion on the brand.

1. What’s with this “similar” 2018 post?

First, Nick pulled up an older Jobbie Nut Butter post that aroused his suspicion. There, Jobbie Nut Butter wrote a story about how the business would be coming to an end, and were thus holding one last sale with a buy 1 free 1 promotion.

With a message of shutting down operations and a promotion in the post, it does draw parallels to the one made on April 7, 2020, where Jobbie Nut Butter detailed their current struggles, the threat of shutting down, and offered a promotional pre-order.

However, here’s the thing. The 2018 shut down post was made on April 1, 2018, April Fool’s Day.

Does Jobbie Nut Butter get a pass for pulling the pity card and playing with their fans’ emotions to drive sales on a day when you’re not supposed to take anything you read or see seriously?

On one hand, it can come off as rather deceitful, especially since not many people usually appreciate being tricked into making an emotionally-driven purchase.

Not to mention, it’s also now threatening their current credibility.

On the other, it was a clear April Fools’s post, where most of the comments got the joke. In fact, some of their fans praised it and expressed admiration for the brand.

In 2018, it was even an opportunity for Jobbie Nut Butter to connect more with their fans, based on many of the comments.

2. Why is the bankruptcy announcement post still running as a FB ad?

At this point in writing, Jobbie Nut Butter has one active ad copy running on Facebook: the bankruptcy post. This current ad was boosted starting April 15 and continues to be actively running.

A screenshot of Jobbie Nut Butter’s ad campaigns.

You can see that the post had already gained massive traction.

Putting in a sum of money to boost a post of yours as an ad to expand your reach isn’t an issue, of course, and it’s their money to spend how they want to.

It seems to have helped them into a better situation. After getting support and being able to connect with new suppliers, this means that they will soon be able to resume operations. They shared this and more in a Q&A on April 11, and a more recent post on April 22.

What’s odd now is that the ad with the narrative of them going bankrupt is still making its rounds on Facebook, reaching more and more people who have never even heard of them before.

Some of them weren’t even peanut butter fans, but made pre-orders just out of empathy and support (based on the comments on the post).

Why is Jobbie Peanut Butter still boosting that post now, especially when they’re no longer as desperate?

CEO Victor justified their decision, telling Vulcan Post that it was due to their limited reach otherwise as a company that has under 100K followers and no retail presence.

“In this current climate, Facebook ads represented the most cost-effective and fastest way of getting our message out to the public beyond just our existing customers. And yes, the prospect of the MCO extending definitely played a huge part in our decision to continue the ads.”

We also asked why they wouldn’t just make an updated post about their current situation (which has improved thanks to the support they’ve received) and boost that one instead.

Victor replied that it was a good suggestion that they would be doing very soon, but right now, they’re more concerned with honouring their 45-day promise of fulfilling the pre-orders.

He also said, “But I would like to highlight, just because we are good one month doesn’t mean we will be in the next 2-3 months! If you see our post, if we do not deliver our promise in 45 days we offer a full cash refund.”

“The monies received are set aside in case anything happens (it would just be irresponsible to close down and not deliver anything to the customers who placed an order). So no, the pre-order money received would not automatically go to paying salaries and other running costs because we still have to refund it.”

Furthermore, Victor added that suppliers have changed their payment terms to request more upfront cash, increased their raw material prices and asked for larger volumes to justify operating in these times of crisis.

3. Is there inconsistency in their statements?

In his post, Nick pointed out that Jobbie Nut Butter shared in a Q&A that they had about 3-6 months’ worth of cash reserves, and questioned why they would say they were going bankrupt if so.

When we checked out the Q&A itself (around the 4-minute mark), Jobbie Nut Butter’s co-founder did indeed say that. But he also added that the reason why they made the call for help was because they were already running out of products to sell, and it wouldn’t be ideal to wait out the 3-6 months doing nothing and using up their cash reserves completely.

A post from Jobbie Nut Butter in March 2020, showing their peanut butter in a plastic container, instead of the usual glass container.

In reply to Nick’s claim, Victor told Vulcan Post, “I think this person has taken facts out of context to fit whichever narrative that he wants to portray. We have always been transparent and honest with our situation. If you read our article on The Edge, I mentioned 3-6 months, depending if we take a paycut and also fire our employees or not.”

He then gave an example:

“If we had RM100K in cash now, and our total running costs are RM50K monthly. Then I would have only 2 months to operate with no revenues (RM50K x 2 = RM100K). If we fire all the staff and get 50% cost savings, we extend the runway to 4 months (RM25K X 4 months = RM100K). And let’s take it to the extreme, fire everyone and take no pay (RM16.6K X 6 months = RM100K).”

Victor also shared that while they had enquired about the government’s stimulus initiatives, they didn’t apply for any.

“Funny thing is we are not even eligible when the incentives were announced as our company just switched from sole-proprietor to a private company (SDN BHD) mid last year.”

They are aware of the different qualification criteria, Victor said, and added that once again, his words were taken out of the context of raising awareness that the government needs to mandate a uniform loan application process and make it easier for needy SMEs to access these funds.

Vulcan Post had also posed the question of why they appeared to have no runway in our previous article on them, where they elaborated on the reasons behind why.

4. Have they been deleting comments that question their honesty?

Nick claimed that many of his comments on Jobbie Nut Butter’s bankruptcy post had been deleted.

Upon scrolling through the comments, we did notice a few of his still showed up. However, there was no reply from Jobbie Nut Butter to his claims.

We found 2 of Nick’s comments among the 2.4K comments in the in the original post. There were several more that were similar in nature.

With Jobbie Nut Butter actively replying to countless supportive comments, did they choose to ignore or delete Nick’s?

According to Victor, the comments were most likely auto flagged by Facebook’s spam bots, as Nick had been copy-pasting the same comment over and over again on the post.

From what we can observe, Facebook has already started to flag some of the other “copy pasted” negative comments in the Jobbie Nut Butter post, filtering them out of the “Most relevant” view.

For other comments that questioned if the bankruptcy post was merely a marketing stunt to drive sales, co-founder Joseph addressed them in the Q&A video.

“The short answer is actually no, this is not a marketing stunt, this is as real as it gets, everything we write in the post, we stand by it. There is no sugarcoating, there is no clickbait, there’s no exaggeration. All of them are real fact that it will happen one day,” he said in the video around the 3-minute mark.

We also found a comment thread that heavily criticised Jobbie Nut Butter’s current strategy, and Victor did comment to address the concerns (screenshots below).

Victor also told Vulcan Post, “We have responded officially and personally (as CEO) to his posts on our FB page, our founder Joseph also commented on his shared post of our post to explain and understand the whole situation. However, not only has he refused to reply but he even blocked and removed our comments on his page as well.”

5. Is it ethical to use fear and emotions to evoke a response from their loyal fanbase?

Looking at their past posts, Jobbie Nut Butter tends to take a humorous and light-hearted approach, taking jabs at themselves at times even.

Their loyal fanbase seems to appreciate this approach, based on the comments on the page.

Of course, support can only go so far if your product doesn’t live up to expectations, and according to what most people say about their peanut butter, it’s well-loved.

Not many brands could even consider using this strategy for a post to call for help, written in a way that might seem rather immature and begging for pity.

On the flip side, because they appear to be doing better now, the post could come off as a slap in the face to other struggling SMEs who are simply pulling through on their own without asking for help from their users.

Granted, Jobbie Nut Butter wasn’t begging for donations, they were asking for pre-orders from fans who could afford to do so.

But with their bankruptcy post: are they emotionally manipulating buyers, or are they simply being transparent and honest?

Bottom Line: Personally, if Jobbie Nut Butter’s claim in the post really was true, I appreciate the honesty. Admitting that you’re at risk of bankruptcy isn’t something that many businesses would feel okay to joke about. I’m still on the fence about its method of delivery, but I have a preference for posts about serious things to remain solemn.

  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Jobbie Nut Butter

Categories: F&B, Malaysian, Entrepreneur

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)