Nestle using media to promote its water agenda

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Nestlé's Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, is boasting an interview he gave has been named "the top water story of 2013 in Guardian Sustainable Business"

Actually, Guardian Professional - "supported by funding from external companies and organisations" - listed its  interview with Mr Brabeck as one of its "top five stories":

I posted a comment to the Guardian site, repeated here with useful links:

The Guardian Professional not only gives Peter Brabeck a platform for his greenwashing, but lists it as one of the top stories, which Nestlé is now using in its PR strategy against criticism of its business practices (left email sent to followers of Peter Brabeck's water blog).

Nestlé is widely criticised for its impact on water supplies, promotion of processed foods, contribution to unhealthy lifestyles, treatment of workers and farmers etc, as well as undermining breastfeeding - which has made it one of the most boycotted companies on the planet.

Mr Brabeck has devoted his career to growing Nestlé's turnover, promising investors year-on-year organic growth of 5-6%, and diverting criticism of the harmful business practices used to achieve this. 

How the CEO of a junk food company that shifts processed food around the planet and provokes consolidation in agriculture to the detriment of small-scale farmers is able to promote himself as some sort of environmental guru demonstrates his skill.

Your article states: "Brabeck is convinced we need to go back to a holistic view of the world, because our tendency to specialise has meant we have lost sight of the big picture."

This is what I would like to see The Guardian analysing, rather than simply repeating it without criticism. 

Why not put Mr Brabeck's water agenda - and wider Creative Storytelling Venture (what he calls Creating Shared Value) - into its proper context: that of one of the most criticised companies on the planet seeking to put itself at the very core of policy setting and to divert criticism for its own financial gain? 

A world with holistic policies would not allow Nestlé to operate as it does - but too often it is civil society alone that has to hold corporations to account, as policy makers and mainstream media panders to the same business agenda.

Nestlé has a right to do business, of course, but within a framework set by society, under the regulations society decides are appropriate. Nestlé subverts that at every turn to shape policy agendas to its own financial interests.

The Guardian Professional – "supported by funding from external companies and organisations" – has been co-opted to this process: Mr. Brabeck has posted on his water blog: "Peter Brabeck-Letmathe's interview takes top spot in water stories of 2013".

This is classic two-step communication in action, part of the PR strategy devised by PR guru Raphael Pagan for Nestlé in the 1970s and followed by Nestlé to this day. See analysis in Nestlé's Creative Storytelling Venture.