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Nestle plays down Saddam's endorsement of Quality Street

LONDON - Nestle has moved to quash stories that they are pleased to be associated with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, after he showed his fondness for its Quality Street brand in an interview with maverick MP, George Galloway.

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Speaking to Brand Republic, a spokeswoman for Nestlé commented: "We didn't say we were pleased, merely interested to learn about it. It has got people talking about the brand, but is a bit over the top."

Nestle exports to the Middle East, and the Quality Street brand claims to be the world's top selling boxed chocolate.

Current UN trade sanctions mean that chocolates such as Quality Street are not available from the bazaars of Baghdad, so it is unlikely that Nestlé sees Iraq as a potential target for a confectionery boom.

Saddam, who is second only to Osama bin Laden in the 'Most Wanted' stakes, is an unusual figure for boosting brand awareness, although politicians such as Henry Kissinger have been associated with other global brands in the past.

Besides Saddam, well known Quality Street fans include slightly less sinister celebrities such as Jilly Cooper, Peter Stringfellow, Gary Rhodes and Lily Savage.

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