In a recent blog post, Dr Michael Siegel — a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health — asks: “Why is the Massachusetts Health Council Helping Coca-Cola in its Marketing of Soda?”
- “If you look at the list of sponsors of the Massachusetts Health Council’s awards gala, you’ll find a long list of health organizations, including my own Boston University School of Public Health, the BU School of Medicine, the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. But if you look a little more carefully, you’ll see that one of the “health organizations” that is sponsoring the awards gala is the Coca-Cola Company.”
- “By accepting this money from Coca-Cola, the Massachusetts Health Council is allowing itself to be used as a pawn in a grand marketing strategy taken right from the Big Tobacco playbook. Through its corporate sponsorship, a tobacco company may be able to create good will among the public, even given the recognition that tobacco is a harmful product. In other words, it may help put a “human” face on the corporation and point out its contributions to the community, taking the focus away from damage caused by its products.”
- “Clearly, participating in the marketing of soda is not consistent with the mission of the Massachusetts Health Council.”
PS: Although this post cites the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as having cut its ties with Coca-Cola, it was actually Coca-Cola that decided to end the partnership.
The American Academy of Pediatrics took a much braver step, with its president recognizing the inappropriateness of its ties to Coca-Cola and stating AAP and Coca-Cola had different values.
The difference in those two approaches speaks volumes.