On February 1st, the Pepsi-Cola Company declared the official Pepsi Refresh Project, a service from PepsiCo to contribute money for the formation of large-scale community service projects. Based on the votes of site-visitors, Pepsi will dedicate at least $20 million to “local” organizations (because sending money to unfamiliar charities is like throwing it in a public trash can). Their marketing campaign is executed with youthful social media services as advertising vehicles, like Facebook, Twitter, MTV, and Hulu.
In my research I came upon a “Nutrition Blog” praising the efforts of the Pepsi Refresh Project, and the recent contribution of some farmer’s market’s efforts to educate local children on “healthy food.” Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but where does a soft drink brand get off advertising healthy food when they sell a product who’s main ingredients are high fructose corn syrup and sugar?
Allow me to support my point with some facts provided by Pepsi’s website:
Calories: 150; Sodium: 30 mg; Sugar: 41 g
Ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sugar, phosphoric acid, caffeine, citric acid, natural flavor
Pepsi has clever minds running the company. Anyone selling toxic waste like Pepsi in this day & age needs to find a way to detract attention from their product. The soda industry will not back down when it comes to sustaining their empire. McDonald’s has been up to the same thing for years—for this reason, the distinct logo and familiar taste of greasy fast food and sugar-packed cola can’t get out of people’s heads.
Obviously attempting to attract younger generations, Pepsi claims that each student should change the world by inspiring creativity, one community service project at a time. That way, the head honchos at PepsiCo, aren’t bad guys at all—just a big-time industry who’s willing to give away a little of their $40 billion kingdom and a lot of junk food. The more kids that grow to support the project, the less grip Pepsi will lose on its notoriety.
The tobacco industry is a good example of a destructive product that holds on to that household name. Despite a settlement in 1998 to prevent tobacco companies from taking any action towards advertising to kids, tobacco corporations still promote sexy, slick ads, flavored cigarettes, and the thrilling road to other illegal substances. The fact is, something so acidic and sugary like Pepsi’s soft drinks are damn comparable to the destructive properties of cigarettes. But unlike cigarettes, they aren’t deemed illegal or wildly dangerous…yet.
Pepsi is indeed making a smart move with this false positive self-image. But Pepsi’s kingdom will eventually fall in the way of the tobacco industry. With nutrition concerns on the rise over the past decade, a similar vortex will form similar to America’s cigarette drug bust.
One of the initial barriers that must be broken down is PepsiCo’s ties to education. The easiest solution for schools is to receive money from big soft drink industries by requiring a certain number of products sold. The hope is that the recent push for natural, organic food will produce more dependence on local resources and less dependence on large companies like Sodexho, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola. Education systems need to start searching for other sources of endowment and stop supporting the big, unsustainable food industry. Looking to smaller businesses or non-profits groups is a good way to get their name out, while building bridges for future relationships.
Community service contributions are possible without hungry, big-name corporations—with a bit more work, a group can receive just as much funding from lots of small pools, rather than one big pool. Interested patrons can try looking to the local government or small businesses in the area. Many local services are happy to donate to a good cause. A good place to start: Strategic thinking, a charming proposal, and a trip downtown to visit local businesses.