Thursday, January 24, 2008

Demise of the Nestlé Children's Book Prize - Guardian article

There is an opinion piece on The Guardian website by Julia Eccleshare about the demise of the Nestlé Children's Book Prize.

Here is an extract:

---extract begins
Arguments about the rights and wrongs of the decision taken some 23 years ago by Booktrust to accept from Nestlé will continue even though the prize itself will not. The long relationship, which has been both amicable and mutually beneficial, has finally ended. The move is apparently for good policy reasons, as well as from a sensible recognition that Nestlé's powdered baby milk programme in developing countries has always made it a questionable partner for anything to do with children.

And, it's not just baby milk. Food or drink companies and children do not sit well together, and sponsorships of all kinds have been dropped as a result. But while there's no doubt that this is, ethically, the right decision, it shouldn't be forgotten that the Nestlé Children's Book Prize has done much good over the past two decades - by celebrating the pleasure of reading and encouraging children to get involved in it.


You can read the full article at:

Here is the comment I have left:

Thank you for this article.

It is worth remembering that authors informed the Booktrust in 2003 that they did not want Nestle to sponsor a teenage book prize, as was being proposed at that time, because of its irresponsible baby food marketing activities.

The result? Booktrust found another sponsor.

In 2006, Nestlé pulled out of the Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival following protests and boycotts by artists and the establishment of an alternative, corporate-free prize (The Tapwater Awards).

The result? The organisers found another sponsor.

And in both cases Nestlé's baby food marketing practices were highlighted. More people came to the Baby Milk Action website to view the documentary evidence for themselves. There is a new global monitoring report available via the site now, which shows Nestlé continues systematic violations of the international standards adopted by the World Health Assembly, in those countries that don't have independent and enforced legislation in place. Find out more at:

The boycott helps to draw attention to this malpractice and force changes in Nestlé practices, though at present it is defending one of the practices that has caught media attention - that of branding babies in hospitals in China from birth with the Nestlé logo as used on infant formula packs on the wrist bands with the baby's details. See for yourself at:

So great that Nestlé malpractice is being raised as a result of authors speaking out and the end of its involvement in the prize.

Great too if the Booktrust does as it did in 2003 and finds a more appropriate sponsor.

1 comment:

Rob A said...

I have left the following comment:
Julia, You say "Nestlé put money into a children's prize when children's books had zero profile and absolutely no one else was interested"
But wasn't it the Smarties prize before the generic brand name took over? And wasn't Smarties a Rowntrees brand before Nestlé bought it? If so, it seems you've given Nestlé credit where it's not due.

Beside that, I think this is great news, and I do hope that Booktrust can find a new sponsor, with a better reputation, to promote reading to kids.