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Nestlé Children's book prize

Updated: 11 December 2006

Nestlé is sponsoring a children's book prize organised by the Booktrust. The book prize is a great scheme where short-listed books are distributed to a number of schools, whose students vote for their favourites. Baby Milk Action's objection comes because of the involvement of Nestlé, a company that abuses children and human rights around the world.

For Nestlé its involvement is an ideal way to try to divert criticism of its activities. The main element of the sponsorship appears to be providing public relations services to the prize through the PR company, Spreckley's.

Spreckley is a specialist in:

"CRISIS AND ISSUES MANAGEMENT – All businesses face problems at some point and the best strategy is to be prepared. We can help clients devise a crisis and issues strategy plan, as well as providing counsel and advice when incidents arises."

So perhaps it is not surprising that the press release refers not only to the book prize, but states Nestlé UK is: "a major supporter of charities helping children and teenagers.”

Nestlé is also the company responsible for more violations of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company. Its aggressive promotion contributes to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants around the world.

Nestlé has also been taken to court in the United States by the International Labour Rights Fund (ILRF) for failing to act to end child slavery in its cocoa supply chain in the Ivory Coast. Nestlé has also refused to support moves to bring farmers within the Fairtrade scheme in Ivory Coast, meaning registered farmers are unable to sell all of their produce within the scheme. Nestlé buys the surplus on the open market at lesser prices, according to ILRF. If cocoa is bought within the Fairtrade scheme the farmers are guaranteed a fair prize and are paid a community surplus used to ensure children go to school.

Seeing through the Spin

Resources for students and teachers:

Nestlé's PR Machine Exposed

Seeing through the Spin
lesson resources for understanding why corporations are targeting schools

Nestlé in schools briefing paper

Leaflets and posters

Nestlé box tops for books

Videos and DVDs

Monitoring evidence

Nestlé and child slavery -
audio interview

Nestlé and Baby Milk Action -
audio interviews

Campaigners across Europe speak about protecting infants and the Nestlé boycott -
audio interviews

Campaign Coordinator's blog on past controversies with Nestlé and the book prize

The kid's aren't alright - The Guardian 11 November 2003

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:

"How can we applaud Nestlé for sponsoring a book prize in the UK when we know it is putting its own profits before infant health by pushing its baby milks and undermining breastfeeding around the world? We are also concerned about reports from Ivory Coast of child slavery on cocoa farms and Nestlé's failure to act.

"The sponsorship of the book prize does not show Nestlé cares about children, it shows how desperate it is to divert attention from the needless death and suffering to which its greed contributes.

"The Nestlé book prize is a great opportunity for teachers and students to investigate and discuss a whole host of issues about corporate power, public relations and human rights. Our Seeing through the Spin pack encourages critical analysis of materials from all sources and includes an exercise where students develop their own vetting procedure for corporate and campaign materials offered to schools.

"If schools question or even pull out of the book prize because of the contradictions of Nestlé's involvement it will send a strong message and help our campaign to protect infant health and mothers' rights. If the Booktrust ends the sponsorship that would be a victory for infants around the world and end this route of corporate propaganda for Nestlé.

"The long-running Nestlé Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe ended after 25 years this year, so longevity has nothing to do with keeping the link with Nestlé going. The Award continues in Edinburgh with a new sponsor."

You can see a news report about the controversy of the Nestlé children's book prize and wider issues of campaigning groups and companies targeting schools in the Teachers' TV news of 10 November 2006. Click here to view the full programme (The piece on pressure groups and companies is about 15 minutes and 30 seconds into the programme. The part specifically referring to the Nestlé book prize is at 19 minutes 50 seconds - and is given below).

For a reaction to Nestlé's statement to Teachers' TV see Mike Brady's blog entry: Nestlé statement of regret over children’s book prize.

The above report appeared in the Teachers' TV news of 10 November 2006
It may be used in the UK under the terms of a creative archive licence.
It's inclusion on this site does not imply any involvement in or endorsement of Baby Milk Action's work or campaigns by Teachers' TV or any of those involved in the clip as interviewees or in any other way
(other than Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, of course).