Responsible advertising and marketing


As a nutrition, health and wellness company, we have a responsibility to promote our products in ways that encourage balanced consumption, especially by children. We want to ensure that all Nestlé products are always advertised responsibly, which we do by adhering to detailed policies and principles, and voluntarily signing up to industry pledges covering more than 50 countries.

At a glance

  • We commit to global compliance with our Consumer Communication Principles and Marketing Communication to Children Policy;
  • We comply with the International Food and Beverage Alliance Global Policy on Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children. We have signed voluntary pledges on the marketing of foods to children covering over 50 countries; and
  • In 2013, our EU Pledge compliance rate was 98.5%.

What we’re doing

  • Over the last 15 years we have strengthened our commitment to responsible advertising and marketing by publishing detailed policies and principles to be followed across Nestlé.

    In 1999, we issued our first set of Corporate Business Principles, which included a principle relating specifically to appropriate communication with consumers. This Consumer Communication Principle states: “We are committed to responsible, reliable consumer communication that empowers consumers to exercise their right to informed choice and promotes healthier diets.”

    In 2002, we released a comprehensive and detailed set of Consumer Communication Principles. These principles, which still apply to all kinds of consumer communication by our marketing staff and advertising agencies globally, stipulate that our advertisements must:

    • Be truthful and credible;
    • Encourage moderation;
    • Not generate unrealistic expectations of popularity or success; and
    • Not undermine parental authority.

    In 2008, with growing awareness of the effects of advertising on children, we introduced our Marketing Communication to Children Policy. The policy, updated in September 2011, states that we do not directly advertise or market our products towards children under six years of age. Advertising to children aged six to 12 is restricted to products with a nutritional profile that helps them achieve a healthy, balanced diet, including limits for sugar, salt and fat. To reflect an ever-changing world, we regularly review and update these principles and policies, and we will be updating our policy in 2014.

  • Principles and policies mean nothing unless they are effectively implemented. We have processes in place to ensure global compliance with our Consumer Communication Principles and Marketing Communication to Children Policy.

    They include:


    • Guidelines that explain:
      – The restrictions on advertising products that do not fulfil Nestlé’s Nutritional
      Foundation criteria;
      – How to brief our advertising and media agencies; and
      – The conditions to meet if we sponsor an event; and
    • A marketing monitoring system that reports annually on all television, print, digital and school event marketing to our internal audit group, which flags any noncompliance situations directly to the Executive Board.


    • The International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA) pledge is monitored by Accenture and covers TV, print and online advertising, and company-owned websites (including corporate and brand-owned websites) aimed at children under 12 years;
    • Monitoring of the EU Pledge by Accenture (TV, print, online), the independent research consultancy BDRC (schools), and the European Advertising Standards Alliance (company-owned websites); and
    • National Pledge signatories are required to monitor and report on commitments in a transparent and accountable manner. Ideally independent compliance monitoring of the local pledge should be commissioned and results reported.
  • Our policies are guided by a series of global, regional and national commitments and pledges that aim to establish industry consensus on minimum standards for marketing to children.

    IFBA commitment

    As a member of the IFBA, Nestlé is committed to comply with their Global Policy on Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children. Each year, IFBA engages a third party to monitor and report publicly on members’ compliance with the Global Policy. In 2013, the report was based on a review of close to 247 television adverts, reviewed over a three-month period across nine countries – Brazil, China (Shanghai region), Colombia, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Thailand. 50 print publications and 86 websites were reviewed across five countries – Brazil, China (Shanghai region), Russia, Singapore and South Africa. Nestlé’s overall IFBA Pledge compliance rate in 2013 was 98.7% for television, and 100% for print and online.

    National and regional pledges

    National and regional pledges, based on the IFBA Global Policy, have been launched around the world to encourage food companies that are not IFBA members to improve the types of products advertised to children and promote balanced diets and healthy, active lifestyles. It will also enable the monitoring of both compliance and impact at a local level. To date, we have signed voluntary pledges on the marketing of foods to children covering more than 50 countries.

    A key component of these pledges is ‘common nutritional criteria’, which set limits on calories and public health sensitive nutrients such as salt, saturated fat and sugar within specific countries or regions. They also establish minimum nutritional requirements for individual categories, such as the percentage of protein and calcium in dairy products. We already have our own Nutritional Foundation criteria, but we welcome these benchmarks as an important step towards greater transparency and consistency, and will use them to assess the nutritional composition of our products and develop healthier options.


    In August 2013, as part of the industry’s ongoing commitment to supporting healthy, active lifestyles, the Malaysian Food Manufacturing Group launched the Responsible Advertising to Children – Malaysia pledge. Each of the signatories, including Nestlé, developed their own nutritional criteria and published individual company commitments that supported the pledge by 1 January 2014.


    On 31 December 2013, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative introduced uniform nutritional criteria in the USA. These replaced the previous, company-specific nutrition criteria for child-directed advertising. They will be reviewed periodically, such as when the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are issued, and updated if necessary.


    From December 2014 the EU Pledge – a voluntary initiative by leading food and beverage companies to change the way they advertise to children – will include common nutritional criteria to encourage the advertising of healthier products. In 2013, our EU Pledge compliance rate was 98.5%. The EU Pledge and the Nestlé Nutritional Foundation already have nutritional criteria for advertising directed at children under the age of 12, and we are committed to applying the stricter of the two nutrition criteria.

    In 2013, the European Heart Network conducted a project which compared the EU Pledge criteria to existing schemes in Europe. They found that the EU Pledge criteria were effectively equivalent to the other schemes used for advertising to children (e.g. the UK criteria).

  • Nestlé Malaysia has reinforced its commitment to responsible marketing of foods and beverages by signing up to the Malaysian food and beverage industry’s Responsible Advertising to Children – Malaysia pledge.

    The pledge stipulates that products advertised directly to children under 12 years of age must meet specific nutritional criteria based on scientific evidence and national and international dietary guidelines. It also states that advertising in primary schools is forbidden without the express consent of the school. Where advertising is used, it should only be for educational purposes.

    The initiative will be overseen by the Malaysian Food Manufacturing Group, who will be responsible for monitoring Nestlé’s activities on an annual basis. Signatories to the Malaysian pledge must also abide by the Malaysian Code of Advertising Practice.

    The initiative is the latest in a string of commitments made by Nestlé to support active and healthy lifestyles around the world. Nestlé, along with the other signatories to the pledge, will develop its own nutritional criteria and publish a specific individual company commitment in January 2014.

Next steps

We will continue to review and update our principles to ensure that all our products are advertised in a legal and honest way.

Related content

Find out more in our Creating Shared Value full report


Where at least 35% of the TV, radio or print audience is under 12 years of age.