One of the most controversial issues to face any industry has been the infant formula problem, especially in third world countries. Third world babies were dying because their mother were feeding bottle feeding them infant formula instead of breastfeeding them (Muller, 1974). Mothers of newly born babies were seduced into the vicious cycle of infant formula, which was surrounded with malnutrition and diseases, through Nestle’s aggressive marketing campaign. This led to a seven-year consumer boycott of Nestle in the 1970s (Boyd, 2011). The objective of this report is not to prove that infant formulas are the cause of the increased number in child mortality in the developing world (Newton, 1999), but to analyse the aggressive marketing campaign adopted by Nestle in an ethical context. The issue will first be analysed using the theories of consequentialism and deontological. Then, the issue will analyse via the theories of relativism pluralism under the cultural context. Lastly, the issue will be analysed under the care of ethics ideology.
From a pure business perspective, Nestle was merely fulfilling its primary motive of profit making. However, due to the exploitation of human rights and the lack of transparency for the purpose of commercial gain this issue needs to be explored in an ethical sphere to conclude if Nestle had incurred a serious ethical lapse in their marketing campaign.
Sales of infant formula suffered a sharp drop in sales due to the declining birth rates in the developed countries. Nestle then expanded its marketing campaign to less developed countries where the population growth rates were high even though the conditions in much of the Third World are far from optimum (Baker, 1985). Basic facilities such as sanitation or refrigeration are not generally available to the population. Thus, increasing probability that a bottle-fed child would contract diseases or produce diarrhea due to the formula being mixed with unpurified water. The high levels of poverty across the population also encourages the over dilution of powdered formula (Post, 1985). The over dilution of powdered formula resulted in infants consuming large amounts of polluted water which would in turn make them fall sick instead of absorbing the nutrients from the infant formula that they so desperately need. The mother may also become dependent on the baby formula as she loses the ability to breastfeed. As infant formula is expensive, the mother may not be able to afford the formula for her child thus resulting her to find substitute products in order to feed her child. These products may range from powdered whole milk to white powders such as cornstarch all of which are not suitable for an infant (Post, 1985).
Further aggravating the problem were the promotional efforts by Nestle. Mass media promotion via various channels such as radios and billboards were intense. Nestle also promoted their products through posters, baby books and distribu...