By Liz Gonzalez, New America Media
Picture this: Stylish, athletic and beautiful people are dancing in the street to hip-hop beats. The camera pans out and B-boys are demonstrating their intricate skills to the crowd. The sun is shining and couples look dreamily into each other’s eyes. Someone takes a long, satisfying drink of soda.
It’s the latest ad for a popular soda. You get the feeling that these soda drinkers got it good. They’re having fun, they have cool friends and don’t have a care in the world. Makes you want to pick up a can of your own, just to see if you can get that good feeling, too.
But a good feeling is not what you get if you regularly drink soda. Today, we have been made well aware of the health effects of drinking soda, but have not made a move to tone down the way it is being sold to us and the younger generations.
Here’s your chance to talk back to the marketers and tell them what you think about soda. New America Media, a non-profit news service and Richmond Pulse, a youth-led monthly newspaper serving Richmond, CA, have launched Soda Sucks 2, a creative contest for youth that asks you to peel back the marketing veneer, do a little research and make your own ad.
Years ago, cigarettes were advertised in the same way soda is now – with a lifestyle that didn’t match the reality that smoking cigarettes can create for a person’s health. A movement helped change advertising about cigarettes and made it not acceptable to advertise cigarettes to kids.
Today, while soda is linked to preventable conditions, it is one of the top drink choices for Americans of all ages with more than 9 billion cases of carbonated soda sold in the US last year alone, according to a report from the Beverage Digest.
“Young people are exposed to an incredible amount of advertising for a product with no nutritional value and which has been linked to serious medical problems,” says Allen Meyer of New America Media. “The Soda Sucks 2 contest gives young people a chance to have some fun and hopefully to think critically about what is being marketed to them,” he said.
Kaylore Fenner, 21 who lives in San Jose, CA hasn’t drank soda in nearly 3 years because “it has a ridiculous amount of sugar,” he said. Soda is not necessarily bad, he said, but it’s like a dessert food and it’s being advertised as something you should be drinking all the time. “I think of the advertising like advertising cake, and people don’t eat cake all the time.”
Kaylore would definitely participate in a contest like Soda Sucks 2 “to spread health consciousness and help people be more aware of what we are putting in our body when we drink soda,” he said, “plus to display some rap skills is always good,” he added.
In an interview with New America Media, Doria Robinson said a member of the Richmond, CA Food Policy Council has seen obesity and other conditions linked to soda consumption skyrocket in her native city of Richmond, CA.
Why do people drink soda? “Marketing, marketing and marketing,” says Doria. “When I was growin’ up, people did not drink soda the way they do now. We had it on special occasions. [Now] people drink it instead of water.”
The contest is open to Californians between the ages of 15 and 25. There are two categories: poster art and rap/music/video/skit. The second category is open to any kind of performance that can be recorded either as an audio or video file. One grand prize of $1000 will be awarded to each category. Entries must be received by October 15, 2012. For all the details visit www.whysodasucks.com
Soda Sucks 2 is a sequel to the successful and much talked about Soda Sucks youth creative campaign held in the summer of 2011. Winners from that contest will be featured in The California Museum’s “Health Happens Here” exhibit this fall.
For more information about the contest please contact Allen Meyer at [email protected].