Celebrity spokespeople are attractive to food and beverage companies because they help draw young consumers. As BMSG's Andrew Cheyne explained to TIME in 2013, "We can't expect kids to turn off that admiration [for their favorite celebrties] when the same person is selling sugar."
According to a recent NYU study, over two-thirds of non-alcoholic beverages promoted by celebrities contain added sugar. By associating unhealthy products with the celebrities most popular among children and teens, endorsements of sugar sweetened beverages are contributing to the childhood epidemic of obesity, explains BMSG's Laura Nixon. Nearly 13 million children and teens in the U.S. are obese, placing them at elevated risk for diabetes and other nutrition-related diseases.
Berkeley, California's 2014 victory against the soda industry could provide insights for other cities looking to tax soda. Among them, says BMSG's Lori Dorfman, is that community organizing must play a strong role. Also, kids' health should be "the first concern."
Shortly after the launch of Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke and a Song" campaign, which features hit songs to promote the product, Berkeley Media Studies Group and other health organizations have taken to Twitter to spread the truth about soda consumption. The groups are posting images of Coke bottles bearing song titles like "Killing Me Softly" and are asking advocates to amplify the message using the hashtag #ShareACoke.