Bangladesh, India: Things that make your children taller, stronger and sharper

Recently two advertisements of childrens food products made by Nestlé and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) aired by a Bangladeshi television channel were banned in UK. The Bangladeshi private TV channel NTV (not Nepali TV as some reports claimed) is rebroadcasted from UK to cover 58 countries in Europe and surrounding areas.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of UK has banned the adverts because they were misleading and inaccurate. The both ads are made by these multinationals for consumers across the South Asian countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The generic ads are usually made for multiple countries and dubbed in several local languages to be aired by local TV channels.

In the Maggi Noodles (Nestlé) advert, a mother explains to her child: “Maggi is the best because it has essential protein and calcium that help to build strong muscles and bones.”

Watch the ad here (in Bangla):

On the other hand the Horlicks (GSK) ad in NTV claimed: “Children have become taller, stronger and sharper. The Horlicks challenge – now proven!”

Sudarshan Banerjee writes at planning-shlanning about a slightly different version of the Horlicks ad aired in Zee Bangla, an Indian regional TV channel:

“The Horlicks Ad would have been banned if it were running on a national channel. Here's how it goes. Scene outside store. Mother and adoloscent child duo – 2 pairs; one Mother's bag showing a refill pack of Complan and the other Mother's bag showing a Horlicks bottle (Both very very CLEARLY – no pixelations, no attempt to hide whatsoever).

The spot goes on with the Complan boy saying, my health drink has 23 nutrients, how much does yours have? To which the Horlicks boy's answer is 23 nutrients and also something (eludes me, at the moment).

The Complan boy goes on to say, Mine makes me ‘Taller’ with the show of measuring up the height on one's shoulder at the Complan ads, the Horlicks boy replies, mine makes me ‘Taller, Stronger & Sharper’.

The Complan boy then says, mine costs Rs.178 and the Horlicks boy replies, mine costs only Rs.124 (please pardon if the prices are off by a few rupees). The Complan boy then jubilantly says, Mummy, In this case we are higher right with the Mother making a grimace of I've-been-had kind of look.

The Ad ends with a couple of people carrying a Horlicks billboard with the 3 tenets of Taller, Stronger & Shraper clearly written in the background.”

The truth emerged after both Nestle and GlaxoSmithKline claimed that the ads had been broadcast in the UK without their knowledge or consent. Interestingly GSK said that its claims were accurate for “children in that part of the world” and they complied with the regulatory requirements of Bangladesh. A GlaxoSmithKline spokesman added that the Horlicks sold in India is a completely different formulation and product to the one in the UK.

Arif Jebtik from Bangladesh had this to say [bn]:

এ বিষয়ে নেসলে কোম্পানি নাকি একটা ব্যাখ্যাও দিয়েছে । নাহ, তারা ক্ষমা প্রার্থনা করেনি । তারা বলেছে, এসব বিজ্ঞাপন তৈরী করা হয়েছিল বাংলাদেশের মিডিয়ার জন্য, “ভুলক্রমে” যুক্তরাজ্যে প্রচারিত হয়েছে বলে তারা দূ:খিত !!

ঠিক আছে নেসলে কোম্পানি । সত্য ভাষনের জন্য আপনাদের অভিনন্দন ।

যাবতীয় ইতরামি এই তৃতীয় বিশ্বের দেশটার সাথেই সবাই করছে , আপনারাও করতে থাকুন ।

“Nestle has given an explanation for this. No, they have not apologized. They said that these ads were made for the media in Bangladesh. They regret that it was broadcast in UK.

Its ok Nestle. Congratulations for telling the truth.

Everybody is doing all these evil things with this third world country. Please continue to do it.”

Himu writes in the comments section:

নেসলের কোন প্রোডাক্ট খেয়ে বুদ্ধিশুদ্ধি হলে জানায়েন তো একটু … একজনকে গিফট করবো … ।

If you find anybody getting sharper after consuming Nestle's products, please let me know. I will present it to ..someone..

The ASA has ruled that the the products should not be advertised in UK without adequate substantiation for the claims made for it but the reality is that the ads will continue be aired in many South Asian countries.


  • Fia

    So what do we make of this ? nestle makes BD and IND kids stronger not the UK ones ???

  • The “Complan VS Horlicks” kind of ads are allowed in Pakistan.

  • Here is my comments published in the FeedBack column of NewAge dated
    Friday 0ctober 31,2008.

    Tainted milk and our responsibility

    Apart from the melamine scare on powder milk there is also the rumour
    that most of the fruits found in different markets are also hazardous
    to health because chemicals are injected either to make them big so
    that they weigh more and/or they ripen fast. Besides, the nation
    hasn’t forgotten the contribution of Magistrate Rokonuddowla who had
    found many restaurants and other food producing/dealing businesses
    violating standards.
    The businessmen are thinking in terms of loss of their profits
    without thinking about the value of a human life but they are morally
    bound by religion and legally obliged by the constitution to provide
    goods pure and not poisonous to the health status of the humans. I
    wonder what would be the condition of a businessmen if he found that
    his imported milk powder containing melamine is the cause of death of
    one of his children or that of a close relative of his. Would his
    greed for money supersede his human feelings?
    Lastly, the politicians of the country who are preparing for the
    elections to form the next government and opposition in the
    parliament must take note that they are to revamp the BSTI and get
    rid of the entire corrupt and useless staff and make at least
    four/five more institutions that would be able to monitor the food
    standard of all locally-produced and imported food items. Also banks
    must be instructed that while receiving the LCs from importers they
    must attach with the LCs results of chemical tests and certificates
    from both national and foreign parties. The present interim
    government, especially the chief adviser, commerce, food and legal
    advisers, should sit with all the importers in the country to discuss
    the following points:
    1. That they will jointly remove all milk powder declared unfit
    for human consumption and destroy those in the presence of a
    committee that should comprise members of the judiciary, print and
    electronic media and any other as suggested by the importers’
    2. That the importers’ association would provide the government
    their undertakings and/or written assurances that they would not
    import food items for human consumption without first checking and
    comparing the chemical test of all their imported items and that one
    of their representatives would remain present in the country of
    origin to ensure shipment of those tested food items.
    3. That the importers wouldn’t wilfully create a `crisis’ of other
    imported items and/or increase their prices causing hardship to the
    If those above three points are not followed, we shall see that
    all the powder milk that the stores are now `hiding’ will soon emerge
    at a later date in different packaging and brand names and the people
    are yet again buying the same tainted items.
    Badrul Islam
    Via e-mail

  • Wow.. just goes to show that people have to watch out for every word that is said in Ads especially in south asia where its kind of a cultural thing to exagerate and be like “this is gooood for you” – like what my uncle says about Ghee – cows butter.

    thanks for sharing this one and finding the ad spots!

  • Tushar

    So a kind of racism is on, in business practice!

    What do you all think?

  • Diana

    According to me that two things will be given to our kid
    usually.Because they like that flavor very much so that they can drink it easily
    Social Bookmarking

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