Health Groups Target Katy Perry for Marketing Pepsi

7 groups sign open letter running Tuesday in some trades

Can nutrition watchdogs shame Katy Perry to stop marketing Pepsi? A group of seven health organizations are going to try. On Tuesday, they plan to run an open letter to Perry urging her to not "exploit [your] popularity by marketing a product that causes disease in your fans."

The one-page ad will run in Variety. (Adweek's sister publications Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter turned down the ad).

Perry is the latest target of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which also went after Beyoncé for her $50 million Pepsi deal.

In the letter, CSPI and the other organizations compare the Pepsi campaign using Perry to the same tactics that were used by tobacco companies.

"Virginia Slims and other tobacco companies used glamorous celebrities and models to position smoking as hip, sexy and rebellious. Today soda companies are using you and other celebrities to convince young people that drinking soda is hip, sexy and rebellious," CSPI and the other groups wrote. "'Drink Pepsi and you can be cool like Katy Perry,' is the takeaway message for your young fans. 'Live for now' and worry about the health consequences later."

Perry's connection with Pepsi has been played up in films and her music. For example, this summer she ran an online campaign with Pepsi to determine which song she would sing at the Video Music Awards.

It's probably a long shot convincing Perry or any other celebrity to stop marketing sodas because it works. CSPI's own evidence shows just how powerful Perry's endorsement is, coming in second to Justin Bieber's clout on Twitter (she has 58.4 million followers).

A video assembled by CSPI titled The Sellouts that shows clips of celebrity soda pushers also drives home just how ingrained celebrities are in the marketing of soda. It features some of the most successful soft-drink spots of all time, including Mean Joe Greene for Coca-Cola and Cindy Crawford for Pepsi. "Celebrities shouldn't use their influence to market a product that sickens their fans. Tell them to stop," the video says at the end.

Other signatories on the open letter include the Berkeley Media Studies Group, the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.

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