Monday, June 04, 2007

Misleading claims in Bournemouth

This is how it works. Nestlé puts out misinformation. Other people relay it. Those hearing it from the second source may give it credance as being independent and objective. Even if it is untrue.

In the Public Relations industry this relaying of misinformation - wittingly or not - is known as two-step communication. A pioneer was a guy called Raphael Pagan who developed the strategy for Nestlé in the 1970s. See the Cornerhouse briefing paper, Engineering of Consent, available at:

This is currently playing out in Bournemouth, where an exclusive contract has been awarded for the supply of Nestlé-branded ice cream at sea-front outlets. It has been challenged as Bournemouth Council has given its support for the boycott in the past. Nestlé profits from the ice cream, which also promotes the Nestlé name, though it is now manufactured by another company (it is on our list). Fortunately one of our directors is in Bournemouth - and now a Councillor - and so better informed than most.

In defending the deal, another Councillor has cited that the Church of England dropped its boycott. Yet, as I related last week, the inference that Nestlé was cleared of malpractice by the Church is false. Demonstrably untrue. The documentary record shows it. Research organised by the Church of England found 'systematic' violations of the baby milk marketing requirements. The 1997 Synod adopted a motion calling for companies to change their practices. UNICEF stated the monitoring we conduct with our partners was 'vindicated'.

UNICEF met with Nestlé to address the concerns and concluded: "Our meeting thus regrettably reconfirmed the historic and on-going divergence between the best interests of children as represented by UNICEF and those of the infant feeding industry."

You can download the documents to see for yourself. See:

But damage has already been done. This is what the Bournemouth Echo reported last Friday:

'Cllr Michael Filer, cabinet member for economy and tourism, said: "By 1997 both the General Synod of the Church of England and the Royal College of Midwives Council had lifted their boycott of Nestle. It could be unreasonable of Bournemouth to continue the boycott some 10 years later."'

Why would it be unreasonable? Ten years ago both the Church of England and RCM acknowledged on-going systematic violations by Nestlé and other companies. Our monitoring - 'vindicated' according to UNICEF - finds Nestlé to be the source of more violations than any other company.

Nestlé has rejected the four-point-plan put to it for ending the boycott. Though it told the Bournemouth Echo it "adopts the World Health Organisation code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes as a minimum standard in developing countries" this means nothing in reality. Its policies are not in line with the Code and the subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly and, as has been repeatedly documented, it violates the provisions.

Last month independent reports by The Guardian and UNICEF Philippines showed on-going malpractice and its impact. Look for yourself at:

Nestlé attempted to justify the distribution of promotional fliers to mothers by misrepresenting the Code and ignoring the relevant provisions. See my analysis at:

Nestlé is the most boycotted company in the UK and one of the four most boycotted on the planet. Nestlé-branded ice cream is not really going to be the most welcomed by visitors to Bournemouth. The proposed deal is exclusive, so there will not even be alternatives available for those who support the boycott.

Damage has already been done by the misleading statement published in the Bournemouth Echo. Now the facts have been made known, I hope an informed debate will take place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well the article comments that you have no choice in which ice cream you purchase on Bournemouth seafront. That isnt true. Within a few paces walk from the Council owned kiosks are independently owned kiosks selling Walls and local produced ice cream. Therefore I suggest that the customers who wish to boycott Nestle purchase their ice cream there and leave the council to get best value for its thousands of council tax payers.