By Asmita Sarkar:
Nestle recently hired APCO Worldwide to manage its image after the Maggi-lead fiasco.
Now, APCO Worldwide is not just a PR Agency. They are lobbyists. If you have watched the movie ‘Thank you for smoking’, you’d know what lobbyists actually do. They are the people who influence the policy makers of a country. An example in the Indian scenario would be Nira Radia, who tried to push A.Raja as the Telecom minister.
APCO Worlwide’s members and advisers are former diplomats, senators, foreign secretaries, journalists who, like most lobbies, work to tweak opinions of policy makers.
Nobody quite knows what one of APCO Worldwide’s partner’s, Kissinger Associates, does. Another of its partner, The Heritage Foundation, a right wing US think tank, holds great influence on US policy making. Yet another partner of APCO, in the U.S, The frontiers of freedom, states – to ensure life, liberty and freedom the federal government needs to defend America through “military, economic and moral preparation and strength.”
APCO, a global “PR” agency, which has a clientele of political honchos from around the world such as the former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev, who has been the President since 1989 and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, has been known as the best spin doctor in the business so far.
It was allegedly the brains behind turning around opinion about PM Narendra Modi after the 2002 Gujarat riots, who has now become the beacon of progress. Steven King, a former journalist for The Irish Examiner who was charged with plagiarism, was based in APCO’s New Delhi office till 2012 and was named as the chief spokesperson for Modi in The New York Times in 2011. Even though APCO says that, “We do not work for chief minister Modi and we do not speak for him.” Officially, King was only a member of the global project management team for Vibrant Gujrat, the aim of which was to position the State of Gujarat as an investment hub. The APCO strategy worked so well that the summit was partnered by US, UK, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and Japan. Where Gujarat and its former Chief Minister Narendra Modi had gained notoriety after the riots in 2002, today Gujarat is seen as the most developed State in the country and Modi has become the Prime Minister with majority votes.
What has Maggi got to do with APCO?
A research claims that lead was found in Maggi beyond the permissible limit a fortnight ago. It has resulted in various states of India banning the product. While the product has been recalled from the market, Nestle has failed to communicate with consumers and stakeholders anything beyond the product is safe. Biochemist Thuppil Venkatesh, professor emeritus at St John’s Medical College, Bangalore, who has been researching on lead contamination said, “The half-life of lead in soft tissue is 90 days. Once it goes into bones, it stays for 30-35 years. It bio accumulates, and has no beneficial role. Lead only inhibits biological processes.” Another research which had been conducted on Maggi in 2012 had claimed that the product is 70% carbohydrate and unhealthy unlike the tagline, Taste bhi Health bhi.
What magic APCO Worldwide will work for Nestle is yet to be seen. Their track record of manipulating opinions and making the public forget about a client’s malpractices is well proven.
Do you remember that Johnson and Johnson’s license was revoked in 2013? I guess not.