Soda’s In Schools?

Soda in schools.  Today with childhood obesity being one of the most pressing issues in our country it makes sense that over 30 states in our nation have banned soda sales within schools.  This ban is just one of the ways that schools have taken a stand in helping children manage their body weight.  But is this stance appropriate or should parents be the ones monitoring what their children are eating and drinking?

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A recent study published in the November 2011 issues of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine surveyed 5th and 8th grade students in public schools across “40 states found that in states that banned all sugar-sweetened beverages, 15 percent fewer students reported having access to sugary drinks in schools, and 7 percent fewer reported purchasing those beverages, nor did it change overall consumption.  However across soda-banning, no-policy and all-sugary-drinks-banning states, about 85 percent of students reported consuming sugar-sweetened beverages at least once in the last week.”

So even in schools that banned sugary drinks students are still drinking soda.  Daniel Tabler, an author of this study told the New York Times that “The most unequivocal finding was that laws that focus on soda are just not getting it done.  If you really want to create a healthier school environment, you need more comprehensive laws.”

So who’s responsible?  School’s or parents?  In “Childhood Obesity, Junk Food, TV: Who’s Responsible?” the authors pose this question in who should be taking responsibility.  Is it children’s television?  Parents?  Government-run public schools?  Some combination of the above, or all of the above?!

I don’t know whose right.  But I do know that in today’s mass media world, it has to be hard for parents to regulate what their kids are eating outside of the household.  Who hasn’t been at the grocery store having to navigate the rows around screaming kids begging for Lucky Charms or Oreos.  Now I’m no parent, but I can understand giving in so get some relief from a crying child in a public place.

There are so many competing factors targeting children to eat or drink different things in today’s media intense world.  I do believe that schools have the power to influence their student’s health, but if soda ban’s aren’t doing the trick there should be another step to allow kids to make informed choices.  Media literacy is a powerful tool, and middle school students are old enough to gain some critical thinking skills they may be able to decide themselves what is healthy and what is not.

WP 5/7

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If You Love The Bubbles, Set Them Free

Now, I am not a huge soda drinker.  I do have the occasional Sprite when I’m out for dinner, or Coke when I’m feeling reminiscent of my time abroad in Latin America, but I really don’t drink it all that often.  Maybe it’s because I’m a college student on a pretty strict budget and don’t have room for both Nutella and Pepsi in my diet.  But one thing I did grow up with, and have become more of an active drinker of now that I am out on my own, is sparkling water.

Within the past two years or so make your own carbonated drink machines became a more desired product.  A recent commercial by SodaStream (the leading company in make-your-own-soda) brings into question the competitiveness of SodaStream verses Pepsi and Coke, the worlds leading soda companies.  The commercial below was not shown during the SuperBowl as CBS rejected it.  With Coke and Pepsi being two of the biggest advertisers during the game, perhaps CBS didn’t want to risk their support.  SodaStream now has posted on their website “watch the SodaStream commercial they wouldn’t let you see during the big game”.

The commercial starts with two delivery trucks pulling up in front of a grocery store, one for Pepsi and one for Coke.  The deliverymen load up their carts and race to get to the door first, but before they have the chance their bottles explode and with a cut to a handsome man in a dark room, as he pushes down on SodaStream a voice intones, “with SodaStream, we could’ve saved five hundred million bottles on game day alone”.

SodaStream seems to have a lot going for them.  They are targeting sustainability in their use of reusable containers, saving money by making your own soda at home, and in a day in age where many people are questioning the health factors related to sugar sweetened beverages carbonated water looks pretty good.  You can make your own soda with this machine with added sweetened packages, but according to one YouTube video I watched they contain half the amount of sugar per serving than a normal liter of Coke.  Many people are also buying the SodaStream just for carbonating water.

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It is a pretty smart deal for SodaStream.  The consumer makes an initial investment on the machine (about $80), and then has to refill the proprietary air tanks and if you’re making soda the SodaMixes, both of which you can buy at Target and Crate & Barrel.  I don’t know if it’s totally worth the money, but I do think that they are going to give Coke and Pepsi a run for their money.

With both of these two companies running on persuasive advertising, not necessarily new inventive products, and expensive costs SodaStream might be the semi- affordable switch consumers are willing to try.  Being able to make your own soda at home takes away some of the mystery soda implies, and if you can make it at home why buy it ever again?

NP 4/30

Police Run On Dunkin’

During the Boston Marathon bombers manhunt last week, the only business that was allowed to stay open was Dunkin Donuts.  I guess what they say is true; police really do love coffee and donuts.

However during this time of tragedy and uncertainty for New England’s core city, Dunkin became a safe haven for many commuters and travelers who became stranded when the T shut down early Friday morning.  They served anyone who came in “whether they were looking for a cup of Joe or a place to charge a phone”.  It was at the direction of authorities that “select Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the Boston area are open to take care of needs of law enforcement and first responders”.

An open Dunkin’ Donuts shop at the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Boston Street in Dorchester offered a welcome glow during the lock-down. Boston Globe

An open Dunkin’ Donuts shop at the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Boston Street in Dorchester offered a welcome glow during the lock-down. Boston Globe

A definite stereotype of cops loving coffee and donuts, but Dunkin’ was there when the first responders really needed it.  Dunkin’ Donuts has done a great job of maintaining their reputation as an American staple with their slogan, as of 2006 being “America Runs On Dunkin”.  Traditionally cops have been associated with donuts and coffee as in many areas, the donut shop is the only pace that is open 24 hours a day, and donuts give a quick burst of energy with their small pack of sugar and carbohydrates.

This stereotype has continually been instilled in minds as true throughout pop culture.  Chief Wiggum from The Simpson’s is a prime example, even eating donuts off of his own gun.

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However, truly recognizable as a New England business (I know that I’ve crossed into New England boundaries when Dunkin’ beats out Starbucks on the highways pit stop signs), Dunkin’ Donuts continues to connect with their area of origin.  Founded in 1950 in Quincy Massachusetts and now based in Canton, MA Dunkin’ uses local sports teams to promote their products.  At the start of the 2012 baseball season, Dunkin’ and the Red Socks teamed up to start the season off right.  A “Red Socks Breakfast Runs on Dunkin” stared Jacoby Ellsbury, center fielder, and team manager Bobby Valentine.  The two answered questions and drank iced coffee together in front of a group of loving fans.

Dunkin’ is definitely doing something right.  Cops love them and Dunkin’ knows when to send out support.  And who says coffee and donuts can’t go a long way!

NP 4/23

Open Happiness

Coca Cola wants to make the world a little happier.  Their advertising campaign “open happiness” has been around for some time now, but it was not until recently did I become aware of their unique and seemingly very popular guerrilla marketing technique, the happiness machine.

A creative twist on the standard vending machine, Coke began their mission to “spread happiness” at St. John’s University in New York.  It not only dispensed free bottles of Coca Cola, it gave out flowers, pizza, and a six foot long sub generating one million views in the first week and more than five million views on YouTube today!

Want to get an idea of what this magical vending machine did to a seemingly normal day at St. Johns?  Watch the video below…

After St. Johns they continued to bring this magical machine to many other college campus’s across the U.S. as well as around the world stopping in Singapore, India, Buenos Aires, Indonesia, and London – just to name a few!

I can’t help but be pretty impressed by Coke’s ingenuity in this project, and am personally drawn to their advertisements supporting their creative machine.  However I do not think that they have totally sold the rest of my age group, who some have labeled “the millennial’s”.

Public Relations Society of America states that millennial’s ages 23-36 “place high value on social responsibility, sustainability, and local, organic, grass-fed and hormone-free dishes” and tend to go for “higher-quality products and lots of choices”.

With this definition, Coke may not be the millennial’s number one beverage choice.  Coke has a reputation of pushing heavy duty sugary drinks and there has been a lot of discussion about how sustainable they really are (lots of plastic within their bottles…).

On the other hand, millennial’s areimage.axd very Internet and social media savvy.  Having grown up with the Internet we like our information to be fast freely flowing, and Coke has done a good job keeping up to speed with innovative technological promotions, such as their new idea to have two users see each other and touch hands virtually through one of their special vending machines.  I consider myself to be a millennial and one thing I value is being a citizen of the world. The idea of connecting people across the globe is pretty cool (and current), and relates to my personal values.

I have to say, I am normally very opposed to Coca Cola’s schemes, but the happiness machine did work for me.  I caught myself smiling while watching videos of people accepting their free gifts… and did kind of wish they had come to my college campus as well!

WP 4/19

Jeff Gordan Test Driving It To The Max, Or Is He?

As an avid YouTube watcher I try to stay up to speed on all of the hilarious new videos gone viral.  This week I was surprised to see NASCAR driver Jeff Gordan promoting Pepsi Max in disguise running a prank on an unsuspecting car salesman, taking him for the ride of his life.  Gordan gets into a 2009 Chevy Camaro with a “can cam” (aka a camera disguised as a Pepsi can), and zooms off educing panic on the car salesman.  After taking the car for a few ridiculously fast spins, they return to the lot and the salesman storms off threatening to call the cops, but not before Gordan reveals the truth about who he really is.

A hilarious video, yet to my surprise it just came out that it’s not a true prank!  Gordan apparently did not drive the car, and the salesman was an actor.  That may be because it was a commercial.

Though it was well disguised as another prank video (hello punk’d), the video is indeed an advertisement for Pepsi Max.

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Many are blowing the roof off of the video with detective like images and phone calls to the supposed salesman.  Jalopnik goes on a detailed look into the “truth” behind the video.  It has been discovered that the producers behind it all come from Gifted Youth, a division of Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die Company.  The company even wrote last spring in the New York Times that they “will create videos that are purely advertising, which marketers could run online, on television or in movie theaters. Those videos are more likely to be in the standard commercial lengths of 30 to 60 seconds”.  Though some may see this as deception, I can’t help but think of one thing.  Oh yea, all press is good press.

No matter if it is a true prank or not (or a true commercial or not), Pepsi Max get’s their product across in a creative and pretty hilarious way.  And as of today the video has been viewed over 30 million times!  If this isn’t good advertising, I don’t know what is!

NP 4/16

I Don’t Think You’re Ready For This Jelly

Beyonce is back! In a new commercial for Pepsi Beyonce gives us a preview of her new song “Grown Woman” while revisiting some of her previous music video persona’s through the mirrors of her dance studio.

As much as I obsess over Beyonce (yes I do have a Crazy In Love poster in my room and am having a Beyonce themed birthday party) having her be the spokesperson for Pepsi (after signing a $50 million dollar deal) makes me a little upset!  As a strong, powerful woman, and the role model to many girls, Beyonce has the power to persuade many people across the globe.  And for some time she was using her power for good as a spokesperson for the first lady’s health campaign “Let’s Move”.

In this music video, which has been shown in elementary and middle schools across the country, Beyonce revamps her classic “Get Me Bodied” and leads a cafeteria of students in a heart-pumping workout.  She looks great, and embodies a healthy and athletic persona, which may be close to the true Beyonce!  She even takes a bite out of an apple at the end of the scene, obviously making apples the desire of every little Beyonce fan in the world (including me).

However in this new commercial, after she breaks it down in typical Queen Bey form, she takes a long sip of REGULAR (not even diet!) Pepsi.  I’m sure that Beyonce drank a ton of soda after having a baby and still managing to look like this….

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According to a press release from PepsiCo the new commercial will be appear in more than 70 countries worldwide and be scene by over 1 billion people worldwide.  With such a massive global impact I had hoped Beyonce would not sell out and would think of how her promotional activities directly influence her fans.  The Harvard School of Public Health has stated “a typical 20-ounce soda contains 15-18 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories” and “people who consume sugary drinks regularly – 1 to 2 cans a day or more- have a 26% change of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks”.

I am deeply disappointed in Queen Bey, and hope that the millions of young people who love her so are aware of the dangers of the consumption of sugary drinks.  What do you think, did Beyonce sell out?

NP 4/9

Wine Not!

My grandma always said if it’s bigger than your head don’t eat it.  However in this situation it’s “if it’s bigger than your head, don’t drink it!”  Check out this video of one of Ellen’s suggested Christmas gifts, the XL Wine Glass.

“You know if you’re going to be drinking an entire bottle of wine, do you need a glass?  I think this is honestly for people who want to say, I only drink one glass a night!”

I am sad to say that I too own an over-sized wine glass…  and it is very easy to pour yourself a glass that’s over one serving size!

Over eating/drinking because of the shape or size of your cup or plate is not a new phenomenon, as Wansink describes in his article “Food Illusions”, shapes can distort our perception of how much we are actually eating or drinking.

In a study conducted by Wansink 48 professional bartenders were asked to pour a gin and tonic into either a highball glass or a short, wide tumbler.  They were supposed to pour a shot, but they were not allowed to use shot glasses (they should know what they’re doing right, they’re professionals!)  But even though they were professionals, the bartenders poured an average of 26 percent more alcohol into the wide tumbler than the highball glass!

This visual mind trick is known as the vertical-horizontal illusion.  Cornell University food and Brand Lab states that “we tend to focus on the height of the beverage and basically ignore the width, that’s why we over pour into wide glasses but think we poured very little.”

This makes complete sense to me when I think about my consumption habits in relationship to the shapes of the containers I am drinking from.  Of course I am going to fill the giant wine glass to the top, that’s the portion it was made for!

I think to truly change the amount we are consuming we have to change the container the food and beverages are being distributed in.  Mayor Bloombergs ban on Big Gulps could definitely decrease the amount of unhealthy beverage consumption in New York, but also just being aware of the portion we are being served may increase our consciousness to think before we drink.

WP 4/9