No doubt Nestlé thought that co-branding its Nestlé Crunch candy bars with the Girl Scouts was a good way to burnish the company's image. But health activists fighting childhood obesity interpreted Nestlé’s move as a slick way around the company's commitment not to market candy to children.
This month through September, Nestlé's retailers are selling a limited edition Nestlé Crunch Girl Scout candy bar. Under Nestlé’s licensing deal with the Girl Scouts, it offers three different candy bars based on three famous flavors of the Girl Scout cookies—thin mints, caramel and coconut, and peanut butter creme. The packaging features both logos in the familiar colors of Nestlé blue and Scouts' green.
Health advocates charge that by associating the product with the Girl Scouts, a respected club for girls 5 to 17, the candy maker is appealing to children and breaking its commitment not to market to children under 12.
"Nestlé is using the strong image of Girl Scouts to put a health halo over junk food," said Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the CSPI, which along with the Berkeley Media Studies Group, wrote to Nestlé CEO Brad Alford Monday to urge the company to stop the practice.
"Having the Girl Scouts logo is no different than having a Disney princess, SpongeBob or the latest movie character that kids like on the package. It's equally inappropriate for the Girl Scouts to be licensing their brand to be on a candy bar," Wootan said.
Nestlé and the Girl Scouts were not immediately available for comment, but Elaine Kolish, the vp and director of the Cfbai, part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said Nestlé wasn't violating its pledge. As a member of the Cfbai, Nestlé has agreed not to advertise candy to children under 12 on measured media (such as TV and radio) and in emerging media (video games and apps).
"[The company] is not engaging in child-directed advertising for products with a Girl Scouts logo. Our program does not apply to packaging at point of sale because grocery stores are primarily adult-oriented venues," Kolish said in a statement. "We would have been pleased to look into this and explain our position to the CSPI and BMG, had they asked."