October 27, 2008

Things that make your children taller, stronger and sharper

First published in Global Voices

Recently two advertisements of childrens food products made by Nestlé and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) aired by a Bangladeshi television channel were banned in UK. The Bangladeshi private TV channel NTV (not Nepali TV as some reports claimed) is rebroadcasted from UK to cover 58 countries in Europe and surrounding areas.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of UK has banned the adverts because they were misleading and inaccurate. The both ads are made by these multinationals for consumers across the South Asian countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The generic ads are usually made for multiple countries and dubbed in several local languages to be aired by local TV channels.

In the Maggi Noodles (Nestlé) advert, a mother explains to her child: "Maggi is the best because it has essential protein and calcium that help to build strong muscles and bones."

Watch the ad here (in Bangla):

On the other hand the Horlicks (GSK) ad in NTV claimed: "Children have become taller, stronger and sharper. The Horlicks challenge – now proven!"

Sudarshan Banerjee writes at planning-shlanning about a slightly different version of the Horlicks ad aired in Zee Bangla, an Indian regional TV channel:
"The Horlicks Ad would have been banned if it were running on a national channel. Here's how it goes. Scene outside store. Mother and adoloscent child duo - 2 pairs; one Mother's bag showing a refill pack of Complan and the other Mother's bag showing a Horlicks bottle (Both very very CLEARLY - no pixelations, no attempt to hide whatsoever).

The spot goes on with the Complan boy saying, my health drink has 23 nutrients, how much does yours have? To which the Horlicks boy's answer is 23 nutrients and also something (eludes me, at the moment).

The Complan boy goes on to say, Mine makes me 'Taller' with the show of measuring up the height on one's shoulder at the Complan ads, the Horlicks boy replies, mine makes me 'Taller, Stronger & Sharper'.

The Complan boy then says, mine costs Rs.178 and the Horlicks boy replies, mine costs only Rs.124 (please pardon if the prices are off by a few rupees). The Complan boy then jubilantly says, Mummy, In this case we are higher right with the Mother making a grimace of I've-been-had kind of look.

The Ad ends with a couple of people carrying a Horlicks billboard with the 3 tenets of Taller, Stronger & Shraper clearly written in the background."
The truth emerged after both Nestle and GlaxoSmithKline claimed that the ads had been broadcast in the UK without their knowledge or consent. Interestingly GSK said that its claims were accurate for "children in that part of the world" and they complied with the regulatory requirements of Bangladesh. A GlaxoSmithKline spokesman added that the Horlicks sold in India is a completely different formulation and product to the one in the UK.

Arif Jebtik from Bangladesh had this to say [bn]:
এ বিষয়ে নেসলে কোম্পানি নাকি একটা ব্যাখ্যাও দিয়েছে । নাহ, তারা ক্ষমা প্রার্থনা করেনি । তারা বলেছে, এসব বিজ্ঞাপন তৈরী করা হয়েছিল বাংলাদেশের মিডিয়ার জন্য, "ভুলক্রমে" যুক্তরাজ্যে প্রচারিত হয়েছে বলে তারা দূ:খিত !!

ঠিক আছে নেসলে কোম্পানি । সত্য ভাষনের জন্য আপনাদের অভিনন্দন ।

যাবতীয় ইতরামি এই তৃতীয় বিশ্বের দেশটার সাথেই সবাই করছে , আপনারাও করতে থাকুন ।

"Nestle has given an explanation for this. No, they have not apologized. They said that these ads were made for the media in Bangladesh. They regret that it was broadcast in UK.

Its ok Nestle. Congratulations for telling the truth.

Everybody is doing all these evil things with this third world country. Please continue to do it."
Himu writes in the comments section:
নেসলের কোন প্রোডাক্ট খেয়ে বুদ্ধিশুদ্ধি হলে জানায়েন তো একটু ... একজনকে গিফট করবো ... ।

If you find anybody getting sharper after consuming Nestle's products, please let me know. I will present it to ..someone..
The ASA has ruled that the the products should not be advertised in UK without adequate substantiation for the claims made for it but the reality is that the ads will continue be aired in many South Asian countries.


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