On Sunday the Observer newspaper in the UK ran a piece about letters sent to George Clooney by campaigners (including Baby Milk Action) wanting to inform him about Nestlé's dodgy business practices. Mr. Clooney had been tetchy when questioned at the Venice Film Festival (the boycott is big in Italy) about the conflict between his campaigning on behalf of Darfur and film roles exposing corporate malpractice on the one hand and his appearance in Nestlé advertisements for Nespresso on the other. See:
We have still had no response from Mr. Clooney, but his office did send a standard Nestlé briefing with misinformation about its practices, citing GES and the Methodist Church.
For the Observer report, which also refers to actress Emma Thompson raising the issue, see:
Meanwhile over in the Times, Olympic Gold Medallist was being asked about his decision to appear in advertisements for Nestlé. See:
Here is an extract:
Thompson is being unveiled as the ambassador for Nestlé's Go Free scheme, in which you can swap empty cereal boxes and sweet wrappers for sports-activity vouchers. Aside from the odd health paradox of encouraging kids to munch sugar in order to get fit, there's also the open-sore question of Nestlé's long opposed practice of pushing baby-milk powder at mothers in developing nations. But more of that later.
His involvement with Nestlé surely won't assist his rehabilitation with the British Olympic regime. Doesn't he fear being vilified by protesters such as the Baby Milk Action Group? “That's a good question,” he says, looking rather uninterested. “I don't know anything about that.” Well. So I explain how a broad alliance of global groups has spent the past decade publicly protesting at Nestlé's marketing of baby-milk formula in developing countries, flouting a World Health Organisation ban on the practice. “It sounds like her department,” says Thompson, glancing to the Nestlé PR woman sitting at his elbow.
She explains that the baby-milk arm of Nestlé is a “separate corporate entity” from the food part of Nestlé (including Rowntree's sweets, Nesquik and Golden Nuggets), which runs the sports awards, so that people really shouldn't mix up issues affecting the two. During this exchange, Thompson nervously scoffs a complimentary tube of Fruit Pastilles. “Well, I'm with Rowntree's anyway,” he laughs.
I'm not sure if it is more shameful for Nestlé PR to try to argue that its baby-milk arm is separate corporate entity than trying to divert attention by citing the fact the Methodist Church is an investor without revealing that the Church bought shares to (so it believes) better put pressure on Nestlé to stop its aggressive marketing practices (the Methodist Conference took the view that 'engagement' and the boycott could be seen as complementary strategies).
The Chief Executive of Nestlé, Mr. Paul Bulcke, is responsible for the junk food and sweets as well as the baby milk - they are parts of the same corporation. Nestlé shareholders pocket the profits from all sectors, with little question.
As Mr. Thompson doesn't know anything about the baby milk issue, we hope he will investigate now and consider whether he really does not want to be associated with such a company.
For other aspects of Nestlé malpractice, see: