Nestlé UK chairman and chief executive Peter Blackburn publicly defended his company’s reputation this week after its blanket claim to be an ethical and responsible marketer of baby milk was rejected.
Complaints about assertions in a Nestlé press advertisement were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority Council after a two year investigation – one of the longest in its history. Nestlé is contesting the decision (MW February 4).
Blackburn has been drawn into the adjudication process. As company chairman it falls to him to appeal against the ruling under ASA protocol.
Blackburn is also president of the clients’ trade association the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers. ISBA is a key member of the Advertising Standards Board of Finance, the policy-making body for self-regulation, and the Committee of Advertising Practice, which draws up the advertisers’ codes.
In a letter to Marketing Week this week, Blackburn says: “Whatever the outcome of the ASA appeal, Nestlé continues to do its best to market infant formula ethically and responsibly and to conform to the code [the 1981 World Health Organisation International Code of Marketing Breast-Milk Substitutes].”
He also emphasises Nestlé’s long history and close links with the developing world. “Over 60,000 of our colleagues and their families live in developing countries and we take pains to ensure our business develops long term in step with local economies.”
Letters, page 32