September 15, 2005
According to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free
Childhood, Coke is no longer a social choice - at
least not for children.
The organization wrote a letter to Teachers
Insurance and Annuity Association-College
Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), asking the
institute to remove Coke from the fund's Social
The Social Choice account is the world's
largest socially screened fund for individual
Josh Golin, program manager for the Campaign
for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said the Social
Choice account is supposed to exclude products
that are harmful to society, such as weapons and
Golin said Coca-Cola should be included in this
group because of the company's aggressive
marketing towards children in an age of childhood
Alvin Poussaint, a psychiatrist at Judge Baker
Children's Center, was one of more than 40
distinguished healthcare professionals to sign the
"We're in the midst of an epidemic of childhood
obesity," Poussaint said in an Aug. 30 press
"As long as Coca-Cola pursues profits at the
expense of children's health, it should not be
allowed to claim the mantle of social
Some of the other signatories of the letter
include Marion Nestle, author of "Food Politics;"
Susan Linn, author of "Consuming Kids;" and Eric
Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation."
Golin pointed out that while Coke claims to
have a policy against advertising to children
under the age of 12, it buys advertising time on
shows like "American Idol," which is a top-rated
show for children ages 2 to 11.
In its letter to the Teachers Insurance and
Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities
Fund, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
said that Coke has been an active sponsor in films
such as "Harry Potter," which is targeted toward
Golin said Coke has been actively lobbying
against legislation that would remove soft drink
machines from schools.
The letter states Coca-Cola sent five lobbyists
to Indiana to defeat a bill that would have
reduced soda sales in schools by 50 percent.
"All in all, Coke is the worst of the worst
when it comes to marketing to children," Golin
Kari Bjorhus, director of health and nutrition
communications for Coke, said the coalition is
using misleading information.
For example, Bjorhus said while "American Idol"
may be seen by a large number of children, 69
percent of the audience is 25 or over.
She said Coke sticks to its policy of not
marketing to children under 12.
"If you watch Saturday morning cartoons, you'll
never see a Coke commercial," Bjorhus said.
Bjorhus said Coke has always offered diet sodas
and various other choices for soda drinkers.
"Obesity is a very complicated issue," Bjorhus
said. "I don't think their claims are legitimate."
The complete letter and its signatories are