The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and Berkeley Media Studies Group have asked Nestlé CEO Brad Alford to stop marketing limited-edition Crunch® candy bars with three Girl Scout cookie flavors. Their June 18, 2012, letter contends that the co-branding initiative “violates your pledge not to target children with marketing for candy.” The products apparently feature the Girl Scout logo, and the groups assert that this tie-in and logo “will attract the attention of and appeal to children” because Girl Scouts are children, with some “2.3 million girls, in Kindergarten through 12th grade,” participating in scout activities nationwide. “Even if the candy bar advertising is targeted towards adults, the Girl Scout’s theme is inherently appealing to children and so constitutes marketing to children,” according to the letter. The groups close with, “Marketing thematically geared towards children is marketing to children. We look forward to discussing this further with you or your staff.”
Nestlé has denied the allegation, stating that the products are sold in grocery and convenience stores, as well as mass-market retail outlets “which are primarily adult-oriented venues. Nestlé Crunch Girl Scout Candy Bars were developed to appeal to an adult audience, and our advertising and marketing efforts are directed accordingly.” According to the company, “In line with both the CFBAI [Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative] and Nestlé policies on marketing to children, the Nestlé Crunch bars are not advertised in any programming, traditional or online, that targets audiences younger than 12 years of age.” CFBAI backed the company’s assertion, stating “Nestlé’s arrangement with the Girl Scouts of the USA does not violate its commitment under the CFBAI pledge because it is not engaging in child-directed advertising for products with a Girl Scout logo.” See CSPI and Nestlé USA Press Releases, June 18, 2012.