Sugary drinks advertising in the United States is pervasive—from social media and video games to TV and billboards. And the majority is targeted at Black and Hispanic youth.
These ads are part of the beverage industry’s strategic marketing campaign, ripped right out of the tobacco playbook, to sell their products to kids, intentionally making sure they keep coming back for more.
Their tactics range from overt—using kid-friendly characters to entice youth—to the covert: blocking government interference in their marketing schemes and fostering the illusion of healthy products. Fortunately, advocates are fighting back and making strides to protect kids’ health.
Parallels Between Beverage and Tobacco Industries’ Marketing Practices
We talked with Kelly Brownell, PhD, director of the World Food Policy Center, professor of public policy, and former dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, and Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, about tactics that the beverage and tobacco industries use to market unhealthy products to kids and how advocates are fighting back. In a related commentary,1 we explore how beverage companies pour billions of dollars into marketing campaigns that target children.