Cue student junk food withdrawals

By Matt Gillis

Advertising to children has always been a point of controversy in the marketing industry. Consumers under the age of 18 are more susceptible to the manipulative and persuasive nature of advertisements. Previously, most of those advertisements in question dealt with sexualizing women, portraying unattainable standards of beauty or promoting alcohol or drug use. However, a category of brands that has traditionally banked on the sale of their products to young consumers has recently been added to the controversial list of those not allowed to advertise to children.

As part of her Let’s Move! initiative to solve the challenge of childhood obesity facing the United States, first lady Michelle Obama proposed Wednesday to ban the advertisement of sugary snacks and drinks on school campuses for later this year. If put into effect, the proposal would ban companies including Pepsi and Coca-Cola from advertising their “unhealthy” products on school grounds via vending machines or cafeterias. Company logos used as sponsorship of school scoreboards or event programs would also be banned under the proposed plan.

Obama believes the initiative, which comes in celebration of Let’s Move!’s fourth anniversary, will sustain the work parents are doing at home to promote healthy eating. “Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food,” she said. “[Parents’] good efforts shouldn’t be undermined when they send their kids off to school.”

Michelle Obama junk food announcement

The American Beverage Association, which is led in part by Pepsi and Coca-Cola, surprisingly supports Obama’s proposal. The backing from the two soda companies may stem from their production of healthier drinks including bottled water, which would still be allowed for promotion in schools once the ban is initiated.

From an advertising perspective, this ban is a major challenge for companies selling “unhealthy” products. With children being the number one consumers of sugary snacks and beverages, this proposal has the potential to put several of the companies selling these products at risk.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola will have to put more effort into developing healthier beverage options in order to compete with companies that have the right to advertise to students in school, an environment these younger consumers spend the majority of their day in for five days a week. With companies spending over 149 million dollars a year on advertising in schools, losing this advertising platform will require these companies to develop creative solutions to make up for the lost brand exposure.

I guess the saving grace for these companies is that younger consumers are almost always digitally connected. This gives companies the ability to advertise to children via online platforms, which they are usually connected to throughout the day while at school, and inadvertently make the junk food advertising ban pointless.

Reference list:

–       Associated Press. (2014, February 25). Michelle Obama announces new rules for advertising junk food at schools. NY Daily News. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from

–       Let’s Move!. (2014). Learn The Facts. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from

–       People. (2014, February 26). Michelle Obama proposes ban on junk food advertising in schools. People. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from

SodaStream scores Super Bowl scandal

By Matt Gillis

In the world of advertising, there is no better way to publicize your brand to an enormous amount of consumers than during the Super Bowl. But even though there is an audience of over 108 million television viewers (Super Bowl XLVII) in the United States alone, companies must compete against the clutter of the numerous other advertisements featured throughout the game. The heightened demand for a Super Bowl advertising spot has companies generating their most creative and effective commercials of the year, which is another factor each business must consider in trying to effectively reach their target consumer.


However, some companies have turned their Super Bowl advertisements into newsworthy affairs. Several critics even believe that the controversy surrounding said advertisements are calculated attempts to heighten the company’s brand publicity beyond the confines of the Super Bowl.

One such company, SodaStream, has recently been in the news due to their advertisement, which was scheduled to air during this year’s Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2, being initially rejected by Fox. SodaStream is a company that produces machines that allow consumers to make carbonated beverages in their homes. The advertisement, which features actress Scarlett Johansson, directly addressed its biggest beverage competitors saying, “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.”

Because Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are two of the Super Bowl’s largest advertisers, Fox officials initially rejected SodaStream’s advertisement. A censored version of the advertisement that emits the line mentioning the company’s competitors will be broadcast on game day.

However, this is not the first time the Israeli beverage company has been subject to advertisement scrutiny. Last year, the company’s Super Bowl advertisement was rejected by CBS because it claimed that its reusable bottles made the brand greener than both Coke and Pepsi.

With the hefty price tag of up to $4.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl, companies like SodaStream have turned to cheap publicity scandals to garner more consumer reach. The process of submitting advertisements with the knowledge of their looming rejection due to raunchy or inappropriate material is just one of the many tactics companies have turned to in hopes of receiving public attention.

While SodaStream has been successful in creating media buzz about their campaign and brand, the repetition of their publicity-seeking behavior is creating a negative brand image for the company. The short-lived media attention will not generate loyal consumers, and I believe the use of negative publicity as a means of garnering attention has the potential to hinder an up-and-coming company in the long run.

Reference list:

–       Wire. (2014, January 28). Scarlett Johansson SodaStream Super Bowl ad tweaked to drop Coke, Pepsi references. ABC 15. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from

–       Rivera, Z. (2014, January 29). Scarlett Johansson’s uncensored SodaStream Super Bowl ad banned by Fox. NY Daily News. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from

Coca-Cola suspends ads to help Philippines

By Matt Gillis

As the marketplace continues to gain competition, companies are required to maintain a positive brand identity in order to survive. While advertising makes up a large part of a brand’s awareness and image, a company’s corporate social responsibility creates a positive perception of the brand in the minds of consumers. Being perceived as a well rounded company that is willing to help the public is now a necessary factor in the success of a company.

Coca-Cola Inc., along with several other soft drink companies including PepsiCo Inc. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc., have suffered a decline in product sales this year despite new marketing efforts. Coca-Cola has sold four percent less soda in North America compared to last year, which is a continued trend since 1998. Experts suggest that the decline in soda sales is due to its unhealthy nature and the wide variety of beverage choices, but Coca-Cola has begun targeting bottled water, tea and sport drink consumers in order to sell more drinks and boost their sales.

However, despite the company’s decline in sales, Coca-Cola has decided to donate their entire brand advertising budget to the Philippines to aid in typhoon relief efforts. Coca-Cola announced that starting November 18 the company will no longer spend money on advertising efforts leading up to the holiday season. To date, the company has donated more than $2.5 million in cash and contributions to the country.

Coca-Cola FEMSA is one of the soft brand’s bottling companies located in the Philippines. Carlos Salazar Lomelin, Chief Executive Office of the bottling company, said, “It is in times like these when the Philippines sets an example of resilience and good spirit, and where our values of supporting ourselves as a team come at its best.”

Typhoon Haiyan, which has been labeled as one of the strongest storms on record, currently has a death count of more than 5,000, with 1,611 people still missing. The cost of damage resulting from the typhoon is estimated at $5.8 billion for the Philippines.

While Coca-Cola’s decision to end its holiday advertising efforts may seem like a mistake when referencing their decline in soft drink sales, their support in typhoon relief has given them far more publicity and positive brand perception through news outlets and social media with its consumers than any advertisements would have. Publicity reaches a larger market and is perceived as more credible because it comes from a trusted outside source. People are going to recognize Coca-Cola’s social awareness and support the company’s products to embrace their positive efforts.

Reference list:

–       Goldberg, Eleanor. “Coke Suspends Ad Campaign For Best Reason You Could Imagine.” The Huffington Post., 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. <;.

–       Winograd, David. “Soda Sales Continue To Decline Despite Flashy Marketing.” The Huffington Post., 24 July 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <;.





Before reading what the blog post wrote about this ad, I saw it and was really confused and shocked that Pepsi would place this ad so largely for the public to see. The photo was publicized on Monday and is an Ad for Pepsi’s partnership with the popular clothing company from Japan, Bathing Ape. The line is called AAPE, but as seen on the ad it reads as “rape.”

When asked the Huffington Post reached out to Pepsi to ask about their interesting font choice, the spokesperson verified that the advertisement ran in Hong Kong. He wrote, “we regret any misunderstanding caused by the font used and we apologize to anyone who was offended. We will not use this design in the future.”

Although the banner was only placed in Japan, it still portrays Pepsi in a very negative light, because people traveling can understand English and misinterpret the four-letter word. I am familiar with the Bathing Ape brand and have always respected the quality and detail to their products. Whether it was Pepsi or Bathing Ape’s idea for the font style, I think that it was extremely poor taste in whoever decided that the font was the best option.

This is a great example of how bad the outcomes can be if you are careless with advertising. Anything as simple as font choice can change a good ad into a horrible misinterpretation. I think that other than the font, the ad is a great image: it has a simple color combination and clearly shows the icon for Pepsi, as well as the monkey icon for Bathing Ape. Also, the can is clearly portrayed in the image with the design of the iconic AAPE pattern. However, no one will remember these little details when they pass by, because they will all be too distracted with the big and bold word that looks like “rape.” Since the ad is running in Japan and everyone in the country is familiar with the brand Bathing Ape, maybe they will be able to decipher the true meaning of the word. However, I know that many Americans have never heard of the brand. Because of this, they will see what word they do know that pops up into their head, which is rape.

Not only does this make Pepsi look bad, it also gives people a bad first impression of the Japanese clothing brand. A Bathing Ape has always been a trendsetter in the hottest and best quality fashion, but when people see that they are a part of this horrible advertisement, they might be forever traumatized and never shop there again.