Friday, June 8, 2012
Coca-Cola and Karma (cartoon)
Why do soft drinks use bubbly soda? It is the only way to make that much sugar palatable. Sugar ends up being more toxic and addictive than the little cocaine once used.
Former exec regrets Coke's marketing campaign
Text: Nola.com/Newsflash, The Washington Post News Service, with Bloomberg News
Spread before him was a ballroom full of public health officials and community activists, gathered for a "National Soda Summit" on how to loosen the soda industry's grip on the American appetite.
The conference marked the latest salvo in a barrage of recent attacks on makers of unhealthy food and beverages, especially soda.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I, announced plans to ban super-size sodas from his city's restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, and bodegas. Disney will no longer run junk-food ads with its children's programming. First lady Michelle's book about the White House vegetable garden, released Tuesday, notes that the only drinks offered during family meals at home are milk and water.
The logic behind these moves has been repeated so often it is practically a mantra: The nation is in the throes of an obesity crisis, and sodas account for an outsize share of the sugar pouring into American bellies.
Putman, 51, shares that view. But he is also driven by another motive: From 1997 to mid-2000, he was a top marketing executive at Coca-Cola.
"It took me 10 years to figure out that I have a large karmic debt to pay for the number of Cokes I sold across this country," he said. On Thursday, he came to settle it.
He wanted to give an inside account of what he contends has been a drive by Coca-Cola to replace not just its direct competitors but all beverages in the American diet -- a campaign for what the company called "share of stomach." He wanted to warn about the industry's focus on young people and minorities.
But mostly he wanted to level the playing field.
"I'm not against soft drinks per se," he began carefully. "What I am for is balance of power. And I think the power has shifted in the wrong direction. The resources, the scale, the intelligence, the strategy these companies use is intense.
"We need to take all that thinking...all that strategy and convert it -- jujitsu it -- to healthy products."
Such a mission would have been inconceivable to the man who joined Coca-Cola back in 1997, Putman said during an interview before the speech. More