Corporate reputation crises: A timeline

Each of these companies suffered major hits to their reputations. We look back and see how well they repaired the damage.


  • Crisis: Formula boycott
  • Year: 1970s

In 1974, an anti-poverty charity published a booklet accusing Nestlé of getting mothers living in developing countries unnecessarily addicted to baby formula. The organization even went so far as claiming that babies were dying because of the Western-style infant milk. A New York Times article published in 1981 uncovered that many families were over-diluting the formula with contaminated water preventing children from absorbing the proper nutrients. During the same period, research came out indicating that breastfeeding was healthier for babies. All of this created a major disaster for Nestlé, and the company faced boycotts around the world. The food and beverage giant reacted by issuing guidelines for mothers about how and when to give babies formula. Nestlé officials also completely remade their marketing materials to deal with complaints that advertisements were pushing products on mothers. Today, the debate over baby formula remains heated. However, the market is still growing, particularly in Asia, according to research from UBIC Consulting.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated February 27 2014 07:05 AM ET
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