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Nestlé - sponsoring good causes as it tries to improve its image and divert criticism

Nestlé and Netmums
Media watch 10 March 2005: Nestlé CEO shames biz world
Nestlé promotes chocolate as an aid to intelligence in Russian schools - download our A4 briefing paper to show the depths to which Nestlé will sink to boost sales amongst children.
Nestlé and Fairtrade
Nestlé Box Tops for Education
Kids' Club Make Space Initiative promotes Nestlé 'Trust'
Help the Aged promoting Nestlé 'Build-Up'

Nestlé was one of the companies which pioneered sponsoring good causes to divert attention from malpractice elsewhere (see the Cornerhouse publication: Engineering of Consent - Uncovering Corporate PR). What is sometimes referred to as 'corporate social responsibility' is known in business circles as 'cause related marketing'.

In recent years we have witnessed increased 'cause related marketing' activity from Nestlé, following a damning ruling against the company's claims. In May 1999 the UK Advertising Standards Authority upheld all of Baby Milk Action's complaints against a Nestlé anti-boycott advertisement in which the company claimed to market infant formula "ethically and responsibly." Nestlé's claims did not stand up to scrutiny. They still don't. It's aggressive baby food marketing practices are contributing to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants around the world.

Instead of changing its marketing practices, Nestlé decided to follow the advice of the Public Relations firm Saatchi and Saatchi, which suggested the company should advertise the money it gives to good causes to generate good-will towards the company (see press release 5 November 1999).

Sure enough, Nestlé is being generous with its cheque book. And it is attempting to undermine the boycott by boasting of its "partnerships" with the organisations it is funding.

Sometimes charities accept money from Nestlé unwittingly. Sometimes they think they will do good work with the money and any impact on the baby milk campaign is not their concern. Sometimes Nestlé's denials and deception do their trick and, without contacting Baby Milk Action, charities believe Nestlé has changed.

Recently the Charity Commissioners warned of the dangers of entering into ill-considered "partnerships" (see Update 32).

The beauty of the boycott is it provides an opportunity to expose Nestlé malpractice whenever Nestlé is on the offensive.

On this page we will highlight the organisations and events sponsored by Nestlé. Send information to us at mikebrady@babymilkaction.org

We will provide the information so that boycott supporters can voice their concern.

Nestlé CEO shames biz world - 10 March 2005

See http://business.bostonherald.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=72509

"Corporate America reached a new low this week when the chief executive of Nestle S.A. asked a room full of Boston executives, ``What the hell have we taken away from society by being a successful company that employs people?'' The clear message from Nestle's Peter Brabeck-Letmathe: Companies shouldn't feel obligated to give back to the community."

For Nestlé, 'giving back to the community' is all about public relations and what Nestlé's payback will be - increased sales and improved image.

Amazingly, even while Nestlé is boasting about how much it is doing to help victims of the Asian Tsunami, it is also lobbying the government of Sri Lanka for the right to increase milk prices. Prices have already become too expensive for many people since Nestlé and two other transnationals carved up the market between them. You can hear more about the destruction of the Sri Lankan dairy industry by Nestlé and its partners in the broadcast section.

Nestlé Box Tops for Education

Is your school considering promoting Nestlé's cereals at your school? Click here for details of how to campaign to stop it. Most Nestlé cereals are criticised by nutrition experts as being unhealthy, so this is not just about the boycott.

Kids' Club Make Space Initiative promotes Nestlé 'Trust'

Kids' Club Network was one of the organisations to benefit from Nestlé's attempts to buy good publicity following the 'public relations disaster' of the Advertising Standards Authority ruling against the company when it received a £250,000 contract specifically linked to promoting Nescafé, the principal target of the boycott (see press release 5 November 1999).

Recently a new deal has been announced where Nestlé is sponsoring Kids' Club Make Space initiative with a £1.2 million 'development fund'. Materials for the initiative bear the logo 'Nestlé Trust' and press releases prominently mention Nestlé and quote UK Chief Executive, Alastair Sykes, at length. The initiative involves providing support services to independent groups around the contry, some of which are deeply disturbed by the Nestlé link. Press releases produced for these groups similarly promote Nestlé's involvement in the initiative and quote Mr. Sykes.

Without a hint of irony, Make Space says on its website: "It’s great to see a major corporation like Nestlé taking such an innovative and positive approach to young people. Young people are, after all, our future and investment now will be repaid with better citizens and better communities."

This statement is shockingly insensitive to the infants and parents who have suffered as a result of Nestlé's aggressive promotion of breastmilk substitutes.

The Make Space initiative has the laudable aim of supporting a network of clubs around the country where young people can meet and relax. In such deals it is usually a condition that Nestlé support be prominently mentioned in materials (the logos on the left appear on the Make Space materials). However, there is no reason why Make Space clubs cannot otherwise be Nestlé-free zones supporting the Nestlé boycott and campaigning for a change of sponsor.

Baby Milk Action can provide posters and materials for display and within the scope of the activities of the club would be happy to provide a video or speaker on the baby milk campaign. It may even be possible to arrange a debate between Nestlé management and Baby Milk Action at the club so that young people can make up their own minds on the baby milk issue. (See the 'contact us' form).

In an article in Third Sector Magazine (5th March 2003), it was suggested that Make Space had conducted a survey and found that none of their target group had concerns about Nestlé. This was misleading as the survey only asked questions about the initiative and did not ask if Nestlé, a company contributing to the death and suffering of infants around the world, is a suitable sponsor. We are aware from the number of school children and students that contact us and the strength of support for the boycott in schools and universities, that Nestlé's activities are a serious concern for young people.

We have contacted Harris Beider, Campaign Director of Make Space, and he has asked that people with complaints about the Nestlé link make these known to the organisation.

You can call their helpline on 0207 522 6960 or email: information@makespace.org.uk

Also see http://www.makespace.org.uk/

Help the Aged promoting Nestlé 'Build-Up'

Baby Milk Action has been contacted by people concerned about the link between Help the Aged and Nestlé, which includes the promotion of Nestlé 'Build-Up' products.

Regarding the baby milk issue, Help the Aged has stated to Baby Milk Action: "During our early negotiations with Nestlé, the Company's compliance with the WHO Code was an issue which we considered seriously and addressed to our satisfaction with Nestlé and other organisations."

Baby Milk Action was not included in this process. We are disappointed that Help the Aged should be satisfied with Nestlé's record when others, such as UNICEF, governments and courts are not. Nestlé's claims do not stand up to scrutiny, as the 1999 Advertising Standards Authority ruling against Nestlé shows.

We would like to know your opinions of the link between Nestlé and Help the Aged. Has it influenced your view of either organisation? If you are a boycotter, do you object to Help the Aged promoting Nestlé nutritional products on its 'Healthy Eating' leaflet? (See the 'contact us' form).

Help the Aged can be contacted on 020 7278 1114, email info@helptheaged.org.uk

For further information on the valuable work carried out by Help the Aged, see the site http://www.helptheaged.org.uk/

For an insight into how charities such as Help the Aged present sponsorship as a marketing opportunity see the section http://www.helptheaged.org.uk/Corporate/