Non-profit watchdog the Center for Science in the Public Interest has urged Beyoncé to reconsider her $50m endorsement deal with PepsiCo so her image is not used “to promote Pepsi-Cola, a product that contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, and other health problems”.
In a letter to the singer, CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said: “You occupy a unique position in the cultural life of this country and are an inspiring role model for millions of young people…
“Your image is one of success, health, talent, fitness, and glamor. But by lending your name and image to PepsiCo, you are associating those positive attributes with a product that is quite literally sickening Americans.”
He added: "We doubt that PepsiCo would spend $50m unless it was confident that it could recoup many more times that amount by selling disease-promoting products to your fans, both young and old... I respectfully urge you to reconsider."
Marion Nestle: 'This is a clear win for Pepsi. And a clear loss for public health'
In a Q&A with writer Kerry Trueman posted on Civileats.com and the Huffington Post , Marion Nestle, professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said: "From where I sit, Beyoncé has crossed an ethical line. She is now pushing soft drinks on the very kids whose health is most at risk.
"Her partnership with Pepsi will make public health measures to counter obesity even more difficult. This is a clear win for Pepsi. And a clear loss for public health.
"Beyoncé has now become the world’s most prominent spokesperson for poor diets, obesity and its health consequences, and marketing targeted to the most vulnerable populations."
The percentage of American children drinking carbonated soft drinks has declined noticeably since 2006
The CSPI, which recently launched a provocative video featuring soda-guzzling diabetic bears to highlight the perils of excess soda consumption, has repeatedly called for action at a state and federal level to try and curb soda consumption, and claims that "each additional sugary drink consumed per day increases the likelihood of a child becoming obese by 60%".
However, according to data unveiled in October at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE), the percentage of American children drinking carbonated soft drinks has actually declined noticeably across all age groups since 2006: FNCE hot topic: The percentage of American kids drinking soda has dropped noticeably since 2006
Collaboration is lead example of how Pepsi is pioneering a new way for brands to engage with musical artists
As part of her deal, Beyoncé will star in a new 'Live for Now' TV ad in 2013 and perform at the Pepsi Halftime Show during the February 3 Super Bowl; while her image will appear on print ads, promotional materials in stores and on some cans of Pepsi in Europe.
In a fact sheet outlining the scope of its collaboration with Beyoncé, PepsiCo says that Pepsi has had a relationship with the singer for more than a decade and says their new "creative and wide-ranging global collaboration" is "the lead example of how Pepsi is pioneering a new way for brands to engage with musical artists, moving from sponsor to partner".
FoodNavigator-USA has contacted PepsiCo and Beyonce's spokesperson for comment.