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Katy Perry Takes Fire for Pumping Pepsi

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It's turning into a rough week for beverage giants Coca-Cola (KO) and Pepsi (PEP), and it's only Monday.

Katy Perry is coming under fire from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which will be running a full-page ad in Variety on Tuesday taking the pop singer to task for her role as a Pepsi spokesperson.

"It's a sad story that some of the best-known celebrities in the country are encouraging their young audiences to drink beverages that are bad for their health," Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science, told USA Today.

"Being popular among children brings with it an enormous responsibility. Don't exploit that popularity by marketing a product that causes disease in your fans," reads the ad.

The same group took aim at Beyonce in December 2012 after she inked a $50 million deal to pump Pepsi. "Your image is one of success, health, talent, fitness, and glamor. But by lending your name and image to PepsiCo, you are associating those positive attributes with a product that is quite literally sickening Americans," wrote the Center for Science in the Public Interest in an open letter.

Coca-Cola
(KO) has also found itself the target of yet another anti-obesity campaign.

According to AdAge, the Horizon Foundation of Howard County, Md., has put Coke’s iconic red can front-and-center in a commercial aimed at getting people to switch to healthier beverages.

“Because happiness doesn’t come in a red can. Obesity does,” says the ad in its closing lines.

The Horizon Foundation tells AdAge that, while it wasn’t necessarily trying to single out Coke, it wanted to shine a light on the fact that companies such as Coke spend the bulk of their advertising dollars on their arguably least-healthy products.

“We see this as more of an attack on the advertising,” Ian Kennedy, Horizon Foundation’s communications director, told AdAge. To that end, the ad does portray water and other lower-calorie drinks made by both Coke and Pepsi (PEP) as acceptable alternatives.

Coke declined AdAge's request for comment.

Targeting Coke has become a popular subgenre of advertising. In December of 2012, ad man Alex Bogusky developed a nearly four-minute attack ad for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. With an original soundtrack from singer Jason Mraz, the video took aim at Coke’s popular polar bears. This family of lovable polar bears chugs soda, eventually losing teeth and feeling other ill effects.

Coke itself actually kicked off the year with a commercial touting its array of low-calorie offerings, noting that, out of a portfolio of 650 beverages, some 180 were low or no-calorie options. And, hey, if you do decide to down a bottle of full-powered coke, just balance that out with some exercise.

Coke’s commercial quickly got some new, unauthorized voiceover work that cast a less favorable light on the company.

“Even though we’ve reduced the calories per serving, these beverages can still cause kidney problems, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cell damage and rotting teeth,” says the pirated ad. “Which leaves 470 beverages which have extremely high, unhealthy levels of calories.”

Naturally, Coke isn’t expected to feel much pain from the latest salvo against its brand. However, with each ad, it seems Coke takes another step closer to becoming the face of obesity.

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