VoiceWaves team member John Oliver Santiago was among the Youth Leaders to encourage their peers to fight back against predatory soda marketing. Soda giant Coca-Cola may have reported $12.2 billion in quarterly revenue this morning, but at least 12 California young people say they aren’t buying. The dozen youths, who were named winners of the ‘Soda Sucks’ competition sponsored by New American Media, are instead using their talents to inspire teens across the state to reject unhealthy sugary sodas and drink water instead.Soda Sucks awards were contested in four categories: poster, rap/spoken word, video/animation, and street art. Winners range in age from 15 to 21. Five grand prize winners received $1,000 cash prizes. Five young people received honorable mentions prizes of $100 and prizes were also awarded for People’s Choice and a Runners Up in the rap category. Soda Sucks invited participants to “outsmart the soda advertisers” who relentlessly target young people with misleading marketing messages about sugary drinks. Soda ads rarely mention that a typical 20-ounce soda bottle contains a whopping 65 grams of sugar, more than a full day’s recommended sugar intake.
In his winning video entry, William Haynes, a 17 year-old from Hercules, spoke directly to teens across the state. In a video that featured humor, physiology, and a talking stuffed penguin (seriously), Haynes outlined the latest research about the connection between soda consumption and diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay: “Soda sucks, try something healthy for once,” he concludes. La Quinta’s Harley Ray Weir took the poster category with an original image depicting teens climbing a literal mountain of sugar.
“Young people need to get the message: soda sucks and water rules. Soda companies spend billions trying to convince us to drink that unhealthy crap when water is free and available everywhere,” said Valerie Klinker, a 20 year old mother of two from San Francisco who helped NAM organize the contest. “I won’t let my kids drink sodas.”
Studies show that teenaged males are the biggest consumer of sodas, drinking an average of two sodas a day. “All of our grand prize winners are males, they just had the strongest messages against soda.” remarked contest director Allen Meyer For help in kicking the soda habit, contest organizers invited teens to take the Life is Sweeter Challenge to reduce sugary beverage consumption.
Award winners and their winning entries can be viewed online at www.whysodasucks.org along with names of the judges who selected the winners.