Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The George Clooney press conference and Nestlé coffee advertisement video clips

As I wrote last week, George Clooney was questioned at the Venice Film Festival about his role in adverts for Nestlé coffee. He was at the festival promoting his film about corporate malpractice. The actual question, translated from Italian, appears on this blog:

---Translated question
Considering the role you are playing in this movie, that is a lawyer that goes against a dirty playing multinational company, and I think you are quite on tune with this character since you accepted the role, what I want to know is: how do you coherently manage your role as a advertisement testimonial for Nespresso, a Nestlé brand, that is one of the most boycotted company in the whole world?

Do you think your real life and your fictional one are in some terms colliding because of this role you played [in Michael Clayton]?

Italy is a particularly strong boycott country, where it is promoted by the Italian Nestlé Boycott Network. See:

We issued a press release reporting on the press conference and George Clooney's comment that he was just making a living and found the question irritating, with a quote from me saying I hoped he would be prompted to investigate the issue and support the boycott.

But it is the nature of the media that an article quoting me was headlined: "Clooney criticsed for Nestlé ads".

We work on the assumption that celebrities appearing in Nestlé adverts or working with the company in other ways are either unaware of Nestlé role in pushing baby milk in breach of international standards or have accepted Nestlé's assurances without further investigation, at least until we learn otherwise. Our aim is to inform them of the issues to try to gain their support. (If this issue is new to you, please see the Nestlé-Free Zone page).

You can view a clip of the press conference with George Clooney's response to the question on the Corriere TV website.

It does look to me that he looks a little surprised when he hears Nestlé is widely boycotted (something which even Nestlé's Global Public Affairs Manager admits) and he starts to say something about boycotts before saying he doesn't know how to answer and saying the question is irritating.

Having viewed that clip, I don't think headlines like Clooney lashes out at reporter are justified either. That article suggests Mr. Clooney 'ripped into a reporter'. Well, he was irritated, as he said himself, but that's not quite up there with ripping into someone in my view.

As with the recent coverage of the Wyeth/SMA promotion in OK! magazine linked to the celebrity Jordan, the media loves a good fight, even if there isn't a fight.

But let's not be coy. This is a peg for gaining attention for the Nestlé boycott because a celebrity is involved. We may be appealing to George Clooney to investigate Nestlé's record and support the boycott - rather than criticising him or attacking him - but this is a story because he is involved through appearing in the Nestlé advertisement. Here it is:

By the same token, when other celebrities have spoken out in support of the boycott it has gained coverage for the campaign. A few years ago we had the great spectacle of an article in New Musical Express about breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes after musicians spoke in favour of the boycott. And the British Medical Journal had a picture of Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. Both firsts! See the report in Boycott News 29.

A couple more reflections to finish. This blog has been getting a lot of traffic to the entry last week. Someone left a comment on the article saying they didn't know what the boycott was about from reading the blog. So I've highlighted on the links list that the Nestlé-Free Zone page is a good place to start if you are new to the boycott. I hope that helps. I can't give an overview of the campaign every time I do these daily blogs. They are not press releases, they are a look behind the scenes of the campaign. Press releases appear on the Baby Milk Action website. The press release on this story is here:

Finally, the Marketing Week report picking up on our press release included my comment:

"Wouldn’t it be great if he made amends by walking down the red carpet with one of our Boycott Nestlé resusable, fair trade cotton bags."

We know all about product placement having complained when baby food companies do it. Under the International Code they should not be promoting their products by any means. They are limited to providing scientific and factual information to health workers, who have responsibility for advising parents on infant feeding. As the Code states: "the marketing of breastmilk substitutes requires special treatment, which makes usual marketing practices unsuitable for these products".

But giving our boycott merchandise a plug is entirely appropriate. After all our great bags promote the boycott and help to fund the campaign.

And if George would like one, then he is very welcome. Especially if he does carry it down the red carpet for the permiers of the film. Here's a trailer.

1 comment:

Vivienne Eggers said...

Recently the Nestle Advertisement starring George Clooney has been aired on prime time Australian televsion.

I recently received an email from Nestle regardig the launch of "Singa Toba" (Protective Spirit) which coincides with this advertising. This is a new coffee range that utilises coffee from Toba basin of Sumatra.

I wish to personally say thank you to fellow lake lover, Mr Clooney or his work in human rights advocacy and social justice.

I wish to thank him for adding his "Protective Spirit" to Toba and Sumatra - where I have been actively supporting poverty alleviation, social development and human justice with locals for some 15 years. The Nestle Rainforest Alignment has made a significant mark on Fair Trade. When I last attended the International Fair Trade Association Commodities Links my Buffalo Song Foundation sponsored local senate - there was only once small private company offering fair trade coffee production in Toba, designated one of the poorest regions in the world.

I have a Nestle expresso machine - and Mr Clooney is welcome to give me a "shot" any day. I'll supply the creme.

Vivienne (Tobassa) Eggers
Sumer Tara Blue Lotus
Lady of the Lake