Want to launch a national media campaign against a particular product or industry? Here’s all you’ll need: a targeted product or industry, an outlandish accusation, “innocent victims” (usually children), the “bad guys,” a parade of “expert witnesses” and, quite often, a gratuitous link to the tobacco industry.
The smear campaign has proven so effective for the food police that it has become a “cookie cutter” operation. The cover story of a recent issue of The Nation magazine provides a classic example of the campaign at work.
Target: Soft drink, coffee and tea industries.
- “Scientific research has linked caffeine to anxiety, respiratory ailments, possible bone loss and other health worries.””‘Soda barons’ have used… sly marketing ploys” to target children.
- “Children can become dependent on caffeine.”
- Coke and Pepsi “are pushing a drug on pre-adults, one that may have serious health consequences for a whole generation.”
Victims: “Kids,” “teens and younger kids,” “children.”
Bad Guys: “Caffeine, Inc.,” “major caffeine suppliers,” “soda barons,” “executives at Coke and Pepsi,” “soda conglomerates’ lobbyists,” “Starbucks.”
The Expert Witnesses and Their Charges:
- The American Medical Association says caffeinated sodas are “aggressively advertised” to kids.
- The American Dietetic Association worries “children won’t reach sufficient bone mass.” ”
- A Johns Hopkins University professor calls caffeine a “pharmacological destabilizer.”
Link to Tobacco: “[C]affeine suppliers are following the example of another supplier of an addictive substance: the tobacco companies.”