October 01, 2019

By Gonzalo López Martí - Creative director, etc./LMMiami.com

  • A few years back, a senior marketing executive employed by a very large soft drinks company asked me what I would do with their flagship brand of sugary carbonated liquid, which was starting to confront strong public opinion headwinds as one of the main culprits of the growing epidemic of obesity, tooth decay, diabetes and so on and so forth.
  • An unfair accusation if you ask me but a problem for the company nevertheless.
  • To be sure, it could be argued that the volume-based nature of the soft drinks industry is partly to blame.
  • Still, nobody forces people to chug down the thing.
  • Anyhoo.
  • Disclaimer: it was just a casual conversation, we were shooting the breeze.
  • He was piquing my mind.
  • You can imagine what an obnoxious know-it-all like yours truly did: I started babbling like there’s no tomorrow.
  • My recommendation, in a nutshell was as follows: let the highly visible yet increasingly unpopular sugary syrup die a slow death and move to “healthier” products as fast as possible.
  • No need to go Goizueta and discontinue the brand overnight but divest from the sugary category altogether.
  • In short, milk it while it lasts but don’t spend a dime trying to keep it on life support.
  • His response was surprising and brutally commonsensical.
  • He begged to differ.
  • The tide might eventually turn, he said.
  • As it did, on a minor scale, with coffee.
  • See, in the early 90s some peer-reviewed scientific publication ran an article stating that there was high correlation, if not causality, between coffee consumption and different forms of cancer, particularly of the colon.
  • This was prior to social media so the hysteria didn’t spread out as fast as, say, the anti-vaccination movement.
  • But coffee sales took a hit.
  • Globally.
  • Plus, in the early 90s coffee had a stale image.
  • It was a trite commodity badly in need of innovation and glamorization.
  • Unexpectedly, a few years later, another scientific peer-reviewed magazine published an article stating quite the contrary: the evidence associating coffee and cancer is flimsy and possibly flawed.
  • Moreover, listen to this, there is strong data to infer that coffee is actually good for you.
  • Coffee, it appears, might be beneficial for the heart and for the brain, preventing heart attacks and delaying the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in individuals prone to said diseases.
  • Next thing you, know there’s a Starbucks on every street corner of the solar system.
  • Is there a chance that science might change its verdict on sugary carbonated soft drinks?
  • Who knows.
  • Let’s not forget that Coke and Pepsi were initially marketed as medicinal beverages to treat an upset stomach.


Leave a reply

Enter the characters shown in the image.