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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bottling Spin As A Career Move


Call it the Ribena qualification.

Apparently selling soft drinks without the advertised amounts of vitamin is a virtue. Graham Neale, general manager and vp of GlaxoSmithKline's nutritional healthcare unit in Europe, has been elected to a two-year term as prez of UNESDA, the Union of European Beverages Association, which reps non-alcoholic drink makers. He's already head of the British Soft Drinks Association.

Glaxo, you may recall, was recently fined $316,000 in New Zealand for misleading consumers about its Ribena black currant drink. A pair of teenagers, who were working on a school science project, discovered there was no vitamin C in Ribena, despite ads to the contrary. Glaxo then blamed the problem on bottles that were left on shelves or in cartons for too long, an excuse that was ridiculed by nutrition experts.

Coincidentally, UNESDA recently began a series of commitments to the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health in Brussels. These include: No targeting of marketing communications to children under 12; No vending in primary schools and the provision of products, choice and portion size in the market. The European Commissioner for Health, Markos Kyprianou, has publicly 'named and praised' UNESDA for its commitments.

In his new post, Glaxo's Neale speaks of lofty goals: "I shall be seeking to further build the reputation of the industry through driving the responsibility agenda with a new focus on sustainability and the environment. Action now is better than regulation later."

No mention of truth in advertising, though.

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