Kill Em With Soda: An open letter to Selena Gomez and other pop stars shilling sugary drinks

printer friendlyprinter friendly

Ay! Selena.

You've broken my heart.

As a longtime fan I can forgive your taste in men (Justin Bieber). Or your refusal to speak Spanish (Selena Quintanilla, the slain Tejano superstar you were named after, at least tried). But your latest role as spokesperson and participant in Coca-Cola's Share a Coke and a Song campaign is, well, hard to swallow.

As the nation's most famous Latina (sorry JLo, but Selena just broke the record for the most liked Instagram post ever — a photo of her drinking a Coke) and a major role model for young people, you have a responsibility to understand the severity of the problem you are contributing to. Coke and other sugary drinks are the leading source of excess calories and a major contributor to diabetes, heart disease and other nutrition-related illnesses. What's worse is that communities of color, particularly Latinos and African Americans, suffer the most from these diseases. By being the face of Coke's new campaign and lending your hit song titles for Coke to display on its labels, you are in essence encouraging our youth to drink what some scientists have called poison.

You've shared in promotional social media and video posts that you're an avid Coke drinker and your alleged BFF Taylor Swift drinks Diet Coke, and that your participation in the campaign was "a no-brainer." But there is an obvious disconnect between your words and the impact soda has on young lives. The science is clear: Staying away from soda and other sugary drinks is a no-brainer.

The same can be said about Beyoncé and her 2013 gig as the face of Pepsi. While the pop superstar has recently taken up the theme of racial justice in her music, it is a contradiction to her endorsement of Pepsi. She may not have realized that aggressive target marketing of a product that negatively and disproportionately impacts youth of color is also a racial justice issue — a problem she could join us in fighting.

A number of studies and media reports have shown that celebrities endorse mostly junk food and sugary drinks. The most recent study from New York University is the first to conduct a thorough nutritional analysis of the food and beverage products marketed by pop music stars, revealing millions worth of big money endorsements for sugary drinks, fast food and sweets. The report found only one pop star promoting healthy food — pistachios, plugged by one-hit wonder PSY, whose song "Gangnam Style" was a favorite at big sporting events.

The study's authors concluded that their results "can inform policies designed to address the use of celebrities in food marketing. Many food and beverage companies have agreed not to target children under 12 years old, but these pledges should include adolescents as well."

Sure, I understand the desire to build wealth through endorsements and that celebrities have a limited window of opportunity to capitalize on their fame. But there are options. Take NBA star Stephen Curry, who eschewed sugary drinks for H2O as spokesman for Brita water filters. Research suggests that using celebrity spokes-characters to promote healthy foods to children might be just as effective in changing children's diets for the better. Real live celebrities are sure to have the same impact.

Selena, we hope you follow suit and next time promote healthier products to kids. In the meantime, advocates have no other choice but to include you in our counter to Coke's campaign. We've come up with our own song titles for Coke labels and shared them on Twitter and Facebook: "Toxic" by Britney Spears and "Killing Me Softly" by Roberta Flack, to name a few.

coke and a song campaign redux

In your case, it would be fitting to alter the title of your latest single and video, "Kill Em With Kindness." I'd suggest "Kill Em With Soda."

gender (1) social media (2) sandusky (2) media bites (1) community (1) strategic communication (1) election 2016 (1) paper tigers (1) San Francisco (3) El Monte (3) Bloomberg (3) food justice (1) Golden Gate Bridge (2) water security (1) product safety (1) beauty products (1) online marketing (1) Donald Trump (2) McDonald's (1) food and beverage marketing (3) structural racism (1) cervical cancer (1) Whiteclay (4) soda warning labels (1) cigarette advertising (1) soda tax (11) Twitter for advocacy (1) FCC (1) alcohol (5) Nickelodeon (1) marketing (1) junk food marketing (4) liana winett (1) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) food deserts (1) social justice (2) cancer research (1) Big Soda (2) community violence (1) sexual assault (1) Dora the Explorer (1) junk food marketing to kids (2) ACEs (2) race (1) food (1) george lakoff (1) tobacco (5) news (2) physical activity (1) Aurora (1) Michelle Obama (1) Let's Move (1) nonprofit communications (1) weight of the nation (1) children's health (3) sports drinks (1) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) Oglala Sioux (3) Berkeley (2) soda industry (4) childhood obestiy conference (1) Citizens United (1) Catholic church (1) news coverage (1) Happy Meals (1) racism (1) news analysis (3) sanitation (1) autism (1) SB-5 (1) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) junk food (2) target marketing (8) Coca-Cola (3) privilege (1) violence prevention (8) regulation (2) choice (1) personal responsibility (3) American Beverage Association (1) front groups (1) beverage industry (2) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) sugary drinks (10) california (1) childhood trauma (3) democracy (1) government intrusion (1) industry appeals to choice (1) water (1) Richmond (5) Oakland Unified School District (1) Amanda Fallin (1) healthy eating (1) cancer prevention (1) Sandy Hook (2) adverse childhood experiences (3) food swamps (1) equity (3) paula deen (1) naacp (1) values (1) journalism (1) Measure O (1) prison system (1) food industry (4) prevention (1) social change (1) suicide prevention (2) new year's resolutions (1) ssb (1) summer camps (1) prison phone calls (1) cannes lions festival (1) social math (1) reproductive justice (1) framing (14) public health (70) violence (2) institutional accountability (1) snap (1) sexism (2) Merck (1) public health policy (2) vaccines (1) obesity prevention (1) SSBs (1) cap the tap (1) education (1) Sam Kass (1) HPV vaccine (1) Marion Nestle (1) nanny state (2) Twitter (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) community health (1) health care (1) political correctness (1) media (7) tobacco industry (2) child sexual abuse (5) suicide nets (1) sexual violence (2) world water day (1) campaign finance (1) measure N (2) white house (1) media advocacy (23) soda (12) stigma (1) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) childhood adversity (1) advocacy (3) health equity (10) childhood lead poisoning (1) Connecticut shooting (1) apha (3) auto safety (1) Telluride (1) Big Tobacco (3) seat belt laws (1) filibuster (1) Gardasil (1) built environment (2) food environment (1) abortion (1) Pine Ridge reservation (1) Joe Paterno (1) communication (2) emergency contraception (1) Rachel Grana (1) elephant triggers (1) digital marketing (2) language (6) obesity (10) Tea Party (1) default frame (1) food access (1) communication strategy (1) diabetes (1) public health data (1) messaging (3) cosmetics (1) Penn State (3) gatorade bolt game (1) Newtown (1) tobacco tax (1) Jerry Sandusky (3) mental health (2) SB 1000 (1) Black Lives Matter (1) media analysis (6) women's health (2) gun control (2) food marketing (4) community safety (1) Texas (1) authentic voices (1) gun violence (1) PepsiCo (1) diabetes prevention (1) Proposition 47 (1) Chile (1) childhood obesity (1) breastfeeding (3) Proposition 29 (1) SB 402 (1) genital warts (1) indoor smoking ban (1) soda taxes (2) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) tobacco control (2) Colorado (1) community organizing (1) chronic disease (2) Big Food (2) youth (1) suicide barrier (2) safety (1) news strategy (1) news monitoring (1) inequities (1) corporate social responsibility (1) collaboration (1) sexual health (1) Bill Cosby (1) environmental health (1) Wendy Davis (1)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: