The promotional strategies of baby food companies are becoming smarter day by day. Companies use every opportunity to break the spirit of the legislation with their new age smart communication strategies that include “cause- related marketing” and “association” with celebrities.
Nestle spearheads the baby food market in India and it's a company that is known to violate International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes see www.ibfan.org ,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjrI2TTHWpk&feature=youtu.be,) as well as the Indian law: (The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992 and the Amendment Act 2003 (IMS Act).
For violation of the above law, Nestle has been charged by a Court in Delhi and is facing a criminal trial.
Recently, Government of Haryana took action and seized Nestlé's products from their factory alleged to be violating labeling ruleshttp://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-03/india/33018930_1_nestle-milk-substitutes-bottle-and-infant-food.
Nestle is not leaving any stone unturned to greenwash its image in the society.
The World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in 1981 after it was recognized that marketing practices of baby food industry undermines breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding practices. As a follow up action while introducing the Bill on IMS Act in the Parliament, statement on objects and reasons included, “…. promotion of infant milk substitutes and related products is more extensive and pervasive than the dissemination of information concerning advantages of mothers' milk and breastfeeding. This has contributed to decline in breastfeeding……this decline can assume dangerous proportions subjecting millions of infants to greater risks of infections, malnutrition and death…”
Studies all over showed that use of infant formula is harmful to infant health.
Picture of the event in Delhi 19th August 2012 as it appeared in Times of India
Under the umbrella of “cause -related marketing”, Nestle has resorted to promotional techniques, which are projected as mother and child friendly. Recent example is an event in Delhi on “First 1000 Days Campaign” in collaboration with Times of India, CRY and other cinema celebrities like Konkana Sen Sharma and Shabana Azmi. Nestle calls it a “joint effort”, and the event on 19th August 2012 happened just 2 days before day of trial Court hearing at Delhi.
Similar event was flagged off in Mumbai around Marine Drive on 24th March 2012 with Ms.Priya Dutt, Member of Parliament, Ms.Tara Sharma Saluja, and Ms.Konkana Sen Sharma. This event was just 3 days prior to the launch of their new product “Mom and Me” an expensive food supplement for pregnant women.
Post the Mumbai event when we approached Ms Priya Dutt she said “…My presence was not for endorsing the nestle products but to support a cause…” same with Ms Tara Sharma when she said, “…As for involvement with Nestle, I simply walked to promote healthy babies...” Unknowingly, the celebrities end up providing legitimacy to the company branding. For nestle it becomes cause -related marketing.
While the 1000- day is a campaign (http://www.thousanddays.org/) which is a global advocacy initiative by governments and UN to focus on critical window period of pregnancy and first 2 years of life, Nestle has latched on to this to 'project' them to be 'good' as if they are very concerned for our mothers and children. If they were serious they better stop any promotion of their products directly or indirectly and follow the law in its letter and spirit.
The campaign may appear to be a noble effort by Nestle; the child health experts don't believe so.
Child Health expert’s stand..
It's a “Greenwash” activity. And Smt Krishna Tirath, Minister of State (I/C) Women and Child Development Government of India, refused to participate in the New Delhi event after she learnt that the event is sponsored by Nestle along with Times of India.
Surely, Nestle is concerned about its profit, which is the bottom-line of all corporate houses. Here they have jumped on to activities, which government and public health people should be doing to promote good infant nutrition. In this case they crossed the fence to project a child friendly image although their practices continue to undermine healthy infant feeding practices.
It just can't be a coincidence that such events are timed around their product launch, or the Court hearings.
We appeal to all concerned specially the political and cinema celebrities to SAY NO to ‘Association’ with Nestle and keep the spirit of IMS Act alive.
Download : Nestle Does a Greenwash (pdf)