Government Smarties-pants in Nestle health logo gaffe

Allowing a confectionery giant to use a Government health campaign logo probably wasn't the wisest decision. But who else will fund it?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
In the battle to combat obesity, enlisting the support of one of the world’s largest confectioners isn't the most obvious approach. But the Government clearly didn’t think about that when it granted Nestlé permission to use the logo of its Change4Life campaign, which encourages people to eat more healthily, on a website promoting sugary snacks. The Health Department has been left a little red-faced over the whole affair – but is turning away Nestle's cash really the best outcome?

The reason Nestlé was given permission to use the logo (which features the plasticine figures used in the Change4Life ad campaign created by M&C Saatchi a couple of years ago), was because of its 'Get Set, Go Free' promotion - this rewards families for buying Kit Kats and Smarties by giving them vouchers to try out sporty activities like canoeing or horse riding. But apparently, a family of four would need to buy 60 chocolate bars (many of which are classed as ‘high in sugar’ by the Food Standards Agency) to qualify for some of the more expensive sessions. Not exactly a good example of the healthy lifestyle the Change4Life campaign extols, is it? Apparently the Government is now 'working with Nestle to review the use' of the logo - which presumably means it's going to scrap it.

The issue has been further complicated by the fact that Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley has just slashed the campaign’s budget: apparently he wants food companies and other private businesses to help fund it. Campaigners seem to have a rather sinister take on the whole affair (‘This is another example of the food industry claiming to promote healthy lifestyles whilst in fact encouraging families to eat more junk food,’ spat one). But the reality is that as the spending cuts bite, it’s more and more likely that private companies will have to make up the difference.

And while Nestlé was arguably a less-than-perfect choice, surely it’s better to have a campaign funded by a slightly inappropriate company than to have no campaign at all? We can’t think of many vegan food companies that would have the sort of marketing budget Nestlé commands. Equally, you might look on this as a kind of sugar tax for chocolatiers...

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