For years the tobacco industry has been using restaurant trade associations as front groups in its battle to keep Americans puffing. Now this strategy is documented on a new web site hosted by the University of California-San Franciso. "If Big Tobacco can't buy hospitality groups to serve as fronts, it sets up its own," the site states. Examples include the "California Business and Restaurant Alliance" and the ""Beverly Hills Restaurant Association" (created by a Tobacco Institute PR firm).
In an effort to "bring additional value to our educational partners," Coca-Cola is launching its "Step With It!" campaign. Coke will promote walking to middle school students in 10 cities. According to PR Week, the campaign will encourage students to walk 10,000 steps a day, giving students pedometers to keep track of their walking. Coke will also promote the campaign to local media.
PR giant Golin/Harris is bragging about its new "Global Obesity Task Force." The Task Force doesn't seek to fight childhood obesity, but to protect the interests and image of the multibillion dollar Obesity Industry. Their press release states: "With consumers becoming increasingly wary of American 'big business,' many companies find themselves under scrutiny. ... The increase in childhood obesity has special interest and government groups seeking to hold someone responsible.
The Canadian government, working closely with the biotech industry, is spending millions getting Canadians to accept genetically modified foods. Lyle Stewart describes the "spider's web of influence" that brings together the biotech and agri-food industries, large grocery distributors, the Hill & Knowlton PR firm, and industry-created front groups such as the Food Biotechnology Communications Network, and co-opted NGOs including the Consumers' Association of Canada.
The Centers for Disease Control launch a $125 million advertising and PR campaign to encourage children to be more physically active. In an apparent effort to counter the dramatic increase in childhood obesity, the CDC begins airing paid advertising on TV and radio aimed at 9-to-13-year-olds. According to Ad Age, CDC decided to focus specifically on increasing physical activity and to not address another factor that contributes to childhood obesity, diet. The Publicis Group's Saatchi & Saatchi created the 15-second spot.
"Fast food companies including McDonald's and Coca-Cola are helping to fund a multimillion pound advertising campaign urging Americans to eat more healthily," reports the Guardian. Burger King, Heinz, Kelloggs, Kraft, Nestle, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Monsanto, and Unilever Bestfoods are also funding the $2.4 million campaign, code-named "Activate."
"The similarities between what is shaping up to be the food wars and the tobacco wars are obvious: The food industry is accused of being a major contributor to a public-health crisis in much the same way as the tobacco manufacturers have for decades now," observes PR Week.
Tobacco, booze and food lobbyist Rick Berman has mastered the art of lining his own pockets running his non-profit industry-funded front groups . And now there he goes again, attacking us for a quote of John Stauber's in a recent Wall Street Journal article on the mad deer epidemic . Berman is the master of the smear campaign and constantly misrepresents the individuals and groups he attacks.
"In Food Politics, Marion Nestle's telling book on the food industry's influence on nutrition and health, she asserts that one of the ways the industry intimidates its critics is by suing them," writes New York Times reporter Marian Burros. "As if on cue, the Sugar Association has threatened to sue Dr.