Monday, February 28, 2005

ZNet |Activism | Managing Activism: PR Advice for "Neutralizing" Democracy [This is PR Watch's John Staubers' review of a book written for PR Practitioners. Stauber says it's a good primer on how to recognize the tactics industyr uses for "dividing and conquering activists through "partnering" and co-optation by industry." In his review, Stauber details the author's description of the first Nestle boycott and how it was neutralized by the corporation. - JC]

"...Deegan's book tries to put the best face on the practice of 'managing activism,' which may explain why she avoids mentioning the Washington-based PR firm of Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchin (MBD), one of the worldwide leaders in this particular PR subspecialty. As we have documented previously, MBD grew out of the successful effort by one of its founders, Jack Mongoven, to defeat the large religious-lead boycott campaign aimed at the Nestlé corporation for its deadly promotion of infant formula in the third world. In activist lore this boycott is touted as a major victory, but in the corporate world it is understood that industry really won the day by pulling the rug out from the campaign. By making selective concessions to the activists, Nestlé succeeded in negotiating an end to the boycott. Later, activists were dismayed to discover that its infant formula marketing practices are continuing with only token changes. Third world children continue to die, but today their plight receives little attention, and activists have found that a boycott, once terminated, is not easily turned back on...."