Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Let Them Eat Chocolate

   I just find this one worth a sad little chuckle or two . Nestle, the food and drink giant, has announced it will acquire the Jenny Craig diet chain in a $600 million deal. Sing with me now - "N-E-S-T-L-E-S! Nestle makes the very best, chaw-klet!" Do you remember the dog-puppet and his big, soulful eyes staring into yours from the TV screen as he 'sang' that ditty? Although there's a good chance that most people think first of chocolate when they think of Nestle, the Swiss company also owns the "Lean Cuisine" line. Nestle chairman and CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe expresses an altruistic desire for his company to do good for humankind, to become a "nutrition, health and wellness company". Says Brabeck-Letmathe, "The rise of obesity and the resulting metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is a major public health concern, not only in the USA but also the world over. The Jenny Craig acquisition puts us in a privileged position to help many of our consumers." That last quote is the chuckle.
   First, I guess Mr. Chocolate has never heard of the 24,00 to 30,00 people who die each day from starvation. Second, I get this image of the "help" that will be offered. I picture someone with a girth wide enough to obliterate the view of their own toes, settling into another sedentary evening and ripping open the giant bar of chocolate bought in one of those movie-house up-sizing deals. As the lights go down, our consumer sees a paper flutter from the candy wrapping and slide down their protuberant middle. They grab it just before it disappears into the no-man's land below their bulk and eye it curiously. Lo and behold! they find themselves holding a coupon for a discount membership at Jenny Craig's. With a snort of disdain, the coupon is tossed onto the floor and forgotten. After Gigantico has gone home, the cleaner finds it, and so begins the surprising trend of amazingly svelte theatre cleaners that sweeps North America. Mr. CEO can go to bed at night feeling all self-righteous about the "consumers" he has helped, and the 24 to 30 thousand can go on their way, unnoticed.

1 comment:

Andy Dabydeen said...

Businesses first and foremost, have a responsibility to their shareholders. Along their way, they may do a service that benefits society -- but that may be a happy accident or it could just be that helping society will endear a company to consumers and get them to buy more stuff. Now that Nestle has fatten up the world, they're proposing to get them to lose some weight. If Nestle really wanted to fight obesity, they would remove sugar from their chocolates and include fibre!