Published: 23/10/2013

Mondelez can’t seem to catch abusive human rights practices in its own operations but is preparing to photograph shoppers on their way to the checkout counter  to deliver targeted advertising to stimulate impulse buying. “Smart shelf” technology will stream massive quantities of data back to Mondelez headquarters but the company is not equipped to gather and evaluate relevant information based on international human rights standards.

“Our goal”, a Mondelez spokesperson told reporters, “is to understand how shoppers see, scan, spot, show interest and select products from the shelf in the store. We can also engage and influence the purchase decision by delivering a targeted shopper experience. For example, we can deliver audio or play a video based on demographics, distance and even the time of the day.”

Mondelez asserts that the scheme is not intrusive, that it only targets adults and that the images will not be saved, claims which will no doubt be skeptically evaluated in view of recent revelations of the extensive scope of data collection by private companies.

Rather than photographing consumers Mondelez should be watching for potential abuses by local managements in their plants. While Mondelez is investing in surveillance “engagement” to influence consumer decisions, where is the engagement with the IUF and its affiliates in response to allegations of serious human rights abuses?