Friday, October 13, 2006

Why the hat?

I was off on Friday. So just a quick explanation as to the hat. It is from Sao Lourenco, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

A few years ago I was contacted by people in the town campaigning against Nestlé's water bottling plant, which was destroying the water park in the spa town.

They mounted a heroic campaign to stop the company and finally succeeded in March this year, through a combination of legal action and shaming the company overseas. I am pleased to have been able to play a part in bringing it to people's attention in the UK, with various events and work with journalists and UK development organisations.

It is the same old story of Nestlé flouting regulations, pressuring the media not to report what is going on, using sponsorship to buy friends, keeping cases tied up in the courts and attacking the character of those who raise complaints. It did not tell the truth about its activities and paid others to produce reports saying it was doing wrong. And when it finally gives up - in this case after ten years - claiming this shows how it is ethical and responsible and listens to people in the communities where it operates.

We can't give much time to issues other than infant feeding, but can share our experience in holding corporations to account. It is also useful to undersand Nestlé's management culture and PR strategies. Though if you Google 'Nestle Sao Lourenco' you will see Nestlé has done its image more harm than good with the way it handled this issue.

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