Press Clips: Study Critical of Soda Donations to Health Groups; Xyience College Media Campaign Halted

soda_970Study: Coca-Cola & Pepsi Involved in “Pervasive Sponsorship” Of Public Health Groups

The New York Times reports on findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Monday that detail the “pervasive sponsorship” between Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and over 100 national health organizations with influence over public policy to whom the companies have given substantial donations.

The study, authored by Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University school of public health, and Daniel Aaron, a student at Boston University’s medical school, tracked soda industry donations and lobbying spending from 2011 through 2015.

The study’s “Conclusions” section reads: “There is a surprisingly pervasive sponsorship of national health and medical organizations by the nation’s two largest soda companies. These companies lobbied against public health intervention in 97% of cases, calling into question a sincere commitment to improving the public’s health. By accepting from these companies, health organizations are inadvertently participating in their marketing plans.”

As one example, the Times story cites how nonprofit group Save the Children suddenly halted its support for states seeking to implement a soda tax after accepting a $5 million grant from PepsiCo in 2010. In a statement, Save the Children said the shift in its position was “unrelated to any corporate support that Save the Children received.”

The story lists Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the NAACP, the Hispanic Federation, the American Heart Association, and the National Institutes of Health as groups which have accepted significant financial support from the soda industry.

From 2011 to 2015, Coca-Cola spent an average of over $6 million annually to lobby against regulations focused on decreasing soda consumption, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics cited in the New York Times. PepsiCo spent $3 million during that period, according to the study.

Xyience College Media Ad Campaign Pulled


USA Today reports on energy drink brand Xyience running afoul of NCAA regulations in the midst of a new marketing campaign aimed at college sports media.

Xyience, owned by Big Red of Austin, Tex. since 2014, launched a new campaign in partnership with Campus Insiders, the online division of the College Football Playoff, targeting college sports fans with ads on Pac-12 Networks, the Big Ten Network and ESPN. This included a “XYIENCE Digital-exclusive Interview with College Football Playoff Committee Chairman Kirby Holcutt.”

Yet within two days of USA Today raising concerns over potential rule violations, the campaign was abruptly halted, including the interview show sponsorship, and a press release announcing the campaign was removed from the Internet. The Pac-12 Networks stated it will stop airing the ads immediately.

The issue relates to guarana and caffeine, ingredients found in Xyience that are listed in NCAA guidelines as banned stimulants in high doses. Additionally, schools are prohibited from giving student athletes ginseng, L-carnitine and taurine, all of which are also included in Xyience drinks.

The story states that while Xyience’s campaign did not violate NCAA rules, the Association’s advertising guidelines state that “most energy or stimulant drinks” are prohibited from being associated with NCAA events, not including regular season football or most bowl games.

Gina Lehe, the College Football Playoff’s senior director of communications and brand management, said the organization was unaware that Campus Insiders had a sponsorship deal with Xyience, and that it told the group to disassociate the College Football Playoff from the brand.

GG Distribution Receives Tax Abatement Ahead of Facility Consolidation

A five-year, 80 percent tax abatement for wholesale beverage distributor GG Distribution Co. was unanimously approved in Smith County Commissioners Court in Texas last week, KLTV reports.

The decision paves the way for GG to consolidate its three current facilities into a single campus location in Owentown which will include a renovated 102,000 square-foot building and a second 100,000 square-foot structure at a former US Post Office location.

GG plans to invest $13 million in new construction and $2 million in improvements and equipment. The project is expected to create at least 160 jobs, according to the story.

GG, a subsidiary of Giglio Distributing and Glazer’s Wholesale, serves 13 states. Its brand portfolio includes Red Bull, Perrier and Sweet Leaf.