Big Soda targets African American and Latino youth

In 2010, African-American children and teens saw 80 to 90 percent more television ads for sugary drinks than their white peers. Beverage companies spend more than $28 million a year on marketing campaigns specifically targeting African-American and Hispanic youth ages 2 to 17.

In the words of Coca Cola’s Chief Marketing Officer Bea Perez: “We know that 86 percent of the growth through 2020 for Coca-Cola’s youth target market will come from multicultural consumers, especially Hispanic, and focusing on this segment is critical to the company’s future growth.” 

Big Soda targets young children

Just as the tobacco industry used Joe Camel to lure kids, Big Soda uses cartoon characters like Coke’s cute and cuddly polar bears to appeal to their youngest targets.

In 2013, Coca-Cola Co. placed 38 million ads for products or promotions on children’s websites, despite promises they would not advertise these products to children.

Big Soda uses celebrity endorsements

$28,672,000 is spent annually for celebrities and athletes to promote sugary drinks.

Big Soda uses social media, games and contests

Pepsi’s ‘Live for Now’ campaign included ‘exclusive’ content on the company’s Facebook and Twitter sites, bringing it 250,000 new fans in one month alone.


Big Soda uses industry-run front groups

The sugary drinks industry often forms “Astroturf” groups, organizations that pose as grassroots organizations. Astroturf groups advocate for industry-backed interests while appearing to have the well-being of consumers in mind. These include groups like Californians for Food and Beverage Choice, the American Beverage Association, the Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness, and the Center for Consumer Freedom.

Big Soda tries to influence science by funding studies

A coincidence? Studies funded by the beverage industry are 5 times more likely to find no ‘conclusive’ link between obesity and sugary drinks.

Big Soda lobbies politicians

Another way the industry influences consumers is through lobbying. From 2007-2013, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the American Beverage Association combined contributed over $100 million to directly influence policy makers and local governments.

Big Soda uses philanthropy

An additional way the industry uses money is through philanthropy. For example, Feeding America accepted $200,000 from Pepsi and Dr. Pepper — and opposed the New York pilot project that would disallow purchase of soda with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Often called “selfish giving,” it’s used as a strategy to link industry brands to health and wellness rather than illness and obesity, create partnerships with respected groups, and gain public trust and goodwill to increase sales and profits.

Big Soda denies science

Soda executives and their marketing teams say that there are not “good” or “bad” foods — just calories that need to be part of a balanced diet. Research on how added sugars, particularly high fructose corn syrup, are metabolized strongly refutes these claims. All calories are not created equal.

Big Soda promotes so-called “healthy” alternatives

Just as the tobacco industry created “lower tar” cigarettes, the sugary drinks industry is creating “healthier” drinks to make it look like they care about our health. The California Center for Public Health Advocacy calls this Hiding Under the Health Halo and has produced materials to educate consumers about these false claims.

“Vision 2020 is Coke’s plan to double its business by 2020… This aggressive plan is focused on dramatically increasing consumption of sugary beverages by young people using precision marketing that targets young people, mostly in Latino and African-American communities in the United States and developing countries abroad…”

Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer for the Coca-Cola Company, marketing webinar on March 6, 2014 entitled “Winning the Hearts and Minds of the Global Millennial Generation"

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