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Media Bites: Nestle commercial about donating water to Flint is an insulting example of White Saviorism

December 13, 2018

We have not produced a Media Bites segment in several years, so it seems appropriate to renew our commitment to providing some deconstructions of media, no matter what form it takes. Today, we take on a fairly new commercial by the global corporation known as Nestle.

This 30 second commercial from Nestle is nothing short of propaganda. The spot starts out with a scene in Flint, Michigan, then cuts to a Nestle truck driving from Stanwood, Michigan.

Then a voice begins to narrate stating early on that, “some people forgot about Flint, but Nestle Waters never did.” The narrator continues by telling people that Nestle has been delivering 100,000 bottles a week to Flint for free.

The spot then ends with the narrator saying, “In Flint, we haven’t given up, because we have friends like Nestle Waters.” The commercial ends with an ariel shot of Flint, with the Nestle logo and the tag line that says, “Water is our life’s work.”

The Youtube version of the commercial has a link for more information, which essentially takes you to a page where Nestle just praises themselves for all their humanitarian efforts, specifically in Flint

On another page, Nestle makes a statement that I found very interesting and infuriating at the same time:

At Nestlé Waters, we believe that access to safe, clean drinking water is a fundamental human right. Across North America, we care for and protect the water sources on which we rely, as well as the land around them. We are dedicated to making healthy, made-in-Michigan products while supporting our communities and caring for the state’s most precious natural resource for years to come.

The first sentence alone is an outright lie. If Nestle thought that access to safe, clean drinking water was a fundamental human right, then they would not extract it for profit.

We wrote about Nestle in April of 2018, when the State of Michigan essentially gave the global corporation complete access to the extraction of water in Michigan for the purpose of profiting off of something that people should not have to pay for. 

Getting back to the commercial, about Nestle and the residents of Flint, Michigan. This commercial and Nestle’s attempt to win public support for “donating” bottled water to residents in Flint is a concrete example of White Savior Politics. Here is a global corporation that is run by white people, going out of their way to let the public know that their donations to Flint, Michigan is part of their deep commitment to caring for people. The reality is that Nestle, which profits from water extraction on public land, doesn’t give a shit about people’s fundamental human rights. Nestle cares about Nestle and its shareholders……period.

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