Soft Drink Industry Using Smokin' PR

Soft drink companies are joining the list of corporations scrambling to use tobacco industry public relations tactics to influence legislation, in this case to scuttle a proposal to tax sodas and sugary drinks to help fund health care. A front group formed and funded by the beverage industry called Americans Against Food Taxes (AAFT) says on its Web site,, that it is a "coalition of concerned citizens" including "financially strapped families," but its members are the world's biggest soda pop and sugary-drink manufacturers, along with the nation's biggest convenience store and fast food chains. AAFT is running TV ads in the Washington, D.C. area that show a slender adult couple and their children on a family camping trip while a voice-over says, "This is no time for Congress to be adding taxes on the simple pleasures we all enjoy. ... We all want to improve health care, but taxes never made anyone healthy. Education, exercise and balanced diets do that." Yale University researcher Kelly Brownell says the soft drink companies are using the same tactics that the tobacco industry uses to ward off taxes: promoting personal responsibility as the answer, offering "healthier" versions of their products that have negligible benefits, abdicating responsibility for abuse of their products and claiming a tax on soda would be an attack on free choice.


Why do you call Americans Against Food Taxes a "front group'? It lists its members right here: And it's clear from its site, its advertising and its positions that it's representing the beverage and related industries. There is nothing wrong with this. As a consumer, I'd expect nothing less than the beverage industry to fight back against a tax increase. I'm glad its money is paying for this effort.

Yet you, the "public interest" scolds at Center for Media and Democracy, are somehow more noble than the greedy corporations you lambaste because your funding is routed through foundations and trusts??

At least with the "front groups," I know where the money is coming from and why it's being spent. I can't say the same about you guys.

Because when the Center for Media and Democracy speaks publicly, they speak as the Center for Media and Democracy - not by placing a fake "family" on TV to "speak" about that "family's" "concerns".

And because "Americans Against Food Taxes" is not actually an organization of Americans against food taxes - it is a FRONT GROUP for the soft drink industry. When they call themselves "Soft Drink Corporations Against Soft Drink Taxes", i will agree they are not a front group. Why do they give a false name if they are not trying to finesse their identity?

And the ONLY reason you can read their actual members at their website is because "public interest scolds" have FOUGHT to get public disclosure laws passed, so that it is at least possible to find the true identity of FRONT GROUPS like "Americans Against Food Taxes". Without this legal protection in force, they would be HAPPY to leave NO TRACE of their actual identity while they spread their disinformation.

Again, I don't quite get what makes it a front group. It lists almost 370 associations and companies as its members, and they include manufacturers, retailers, distributors. Some are large, some are small, but all have a real interest in this matter.

The Center for Media and Democracy, however, is one organization. Its funding is untraceable. How is it any more credible than a coalition with nearly 370 pledged members?

... is fully described here:

To understand where the money goes, please read our latest annual report -- available at that same page -- or simply read what we post on this website and our [[SourceWatch]] collaborative encyclopedia.

This illustrates one of my points. CMD gets the bulk of its money from foundations, according to its website. That's fine. I don't have a problem with that.

However, it undermines the endless charges of "astroturf" that CMD lobs against groups it disagrees with, since the money that funds CMD has effectively been washed of its origins by the time it's spent.

With Americans Against Food Taxes, we know exactly where its money is coming from. And frankly, the fact that lots of large companies and groups - often with competing business interests - have come together and lent their names and resources to an effort like AAFT is far more credible than one group -- with untraceable funding -- dismissing AAFT as some despicable "front group."

And frankly, the fact that lots of large companies and groups - often with competing business interests - have come together and lent their names and resources to an effort like AAFT is far more credible than one group --

What's "credibility" got to do with it? As the other commenter pointed out, they wouldn't have "lent" their names to their astroturf project if they hadn't had to -- they're no more transparent than they're forced to be -- and they still hope that by calling themselves "Americans Against " instead "Corporations Against" they'll divert most people from looking at who they are. That's astroturf.

You may call yourself "Proud Corporate Shill" if you like, but you're doing yourself no credit.

I promise, I know I sound like a broken record.

If a company like Coke or Pepsi or Yum Brands has tens of thousands of employees and contractors and millions of customers and shareholders, and it signs on to a coalition with similarly-sized companies, I think the coalition membership can rightfully call itself "Americans" for or against whatever it wants.

...they still hope that by calling themselves "Americans Against " instead "Corporations Against" they'll divert most people from looking at who they are. That's astroturf.

Lighten up, folks. The rest of America isn't as dumb as you think it is.

Multinational corporations are not "Americans".

Groups that hide their funding and obscure their agenda are front groups.

Sorry you can't grasp that.

Front groups are SOP for the tobacco industry.

The HFCS industry has learned from the best.

Your argument is hinged on a false premise. You mean to tell me that if Coke or Pepsi signs on to a coalition, that it did so with the consent of all of it's employees? I promise you that most people that work for Coke or Pepsi wouldn't be aware of the PR campaigns that their employers take part in. Therefore, just because thousands of Americans work for these companies, it would be false representation for the companies to assume ALL of them are behind the message...unless the companies literally sought approval from their employees before-hand (which they most likely did not).
Considering all this, I think it's safe to say that it's not fair for the companies to label themselves as 'Americans' against food taxes. It's more accurate to say that they are 'Executives of Soft Drink Companies' against food taxes...since ANYONE who has ever worked for a large company knows that the lowly employee has no say in the direction of the company. C'mon now. That being said, there is NOTHING wrong with a company fighting taxes on goods that they produce. However, it IS wrong (in my opinion) to attempt to sway public opinion through advertisements that obviously mislead one to believe who a coalition is supported by.
Which leads me to my last point...I agree that the rest of America "is not as dumb as you think", BUT they are much more ignorant than you apparently think. The majority of people form their political beliefs from TV sounds bytes and anecdotal arguments seen on cable news. They just don't care enough to research the things they hear.

The point is, giving the government more money does what, exactly?

No one will be giving up MickeyD's, Coke or Pepsi any time soon. The taxes don't go for health care, they are just a punishment for people eating or drinking, and I for one have had enough of the government trying to control everything in the universe.

The US shouldn't be a complete nanny state!