Our McGovernment and public health

This is little more than a selection of newspaper headlines, but it reveals the extent to which the Public Heath profession has been usurped by the junk food industry in the diet-related disease strategy for this country.

1. “The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald’s and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease”


2. “The secretariat for the Public Health Commission that day was, as usual, provided by Unilever and its marketing team.

It must have felt like a new dawn for the food and drinks industries. After more than four years of determined and co-ordinated lobbying, they were about to achieve the corporate PR agency dream: being invited to write the policy themselves. And, if the Conservatives won the election, in Lansley they would have a health secretary who understood them.

He not only subscribed to the libertarian view that public health should be more a matter of personal responsibility than government action; he bought in to the whole pro-business PR view of the world. (At that time, Lansley was a paid director of the marketing agency Profero, whose clients have included Pepsi, Mars, Pizza Hut and Diageo‘s Guinness. He gave up the directorship at the end of 2009.)”

“Diageo, in fact, had closer links with the Lib Dems than the Conservatives – its corporate relations director, Ian Wright, was one of three people who paid donations directly into Nick Clegg’s personal bank account to fund a researcher – but that would come in useful later once the election results were known.”


3. Register of Members’ Interests


LANSLEY, Andrew (South Cambridgeshire)
Remunerated directorships

Profero (non-executive); digital marketing agency. Address: Centro 3, 19 Mandela Street, London, NW1 0DU. Work includes attending board meetings and advising on strategy and vision for the company. (Resigned 31 December 2009.)

31 July 2009, received payment of £1073.32. Hours: 8hrs. (Registered 21 September 2009)
28 August 2009, received payment of £1073.32. Hours: 7hrs. (Registered 21 September 2009)
30 September 2009, received payment of £1073.32. Hours: 8hrs. (Registered 1 October 2009)
30 October 2009, received payment of £1073.32. Hours: 6.5hrs. (Registered 18 December 2009)
30 November 2009, received payment of £1073.32. Hours: 8hrs. (Registered 18 December 2009)
31 December 2009, received payment of £1073.32. Hours: 6.5 hrs. (Registered 1 February 2010)

4. Freud Communications is a premium PR service whose clients—among them Mars, Nike (NKE), Pizza Hut (YUM), and Diageo (DEO) —pay above-market rates, says Rogers of PRWeek. Where a typical consumer PR firm in London might charge £100,000 a year, Freud commands £250,000 to £500,000, according to Rogers. “If you’re a company with a problem, he can call on his informal network of advisers and friends, CEOs, and politicians,” says Rogers.

In 1996, PepsiCo (PEP) was rolling out newly blue soda cans. To publicize the event, Freud enlisted Air France to paint the Concorde blue and the Daily Mirror to publish on blue newspaper for a day. Freud then arranged for a bevy of celebrities, including supermodel Claudia Schiffer, to pose with the blue products. The successful campaign had all the key ingredients of Freudian PR: celebrity endorsement, brand dollars, and newspaper collusion.


5. The Department of Health announced that from January, its entire public relations work on public health would be handled by Matthew Freud‘s communication agency, which lists several fast and snack food producers among its clients.

Other Freud clients include Pepsi, KFC, Walkers Crisps and the premium drinks company, Diageo.


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