Pepsico's Attempts to "Buy" Credibility Backfires
For Immediate Release
July 9, 2010
San Francisco: In a major embarrassment for food
and beverage company Pepsico, the company's attempts to pay for blogging
rights in a science-based blog have been rejected after an outpouring
of protests on the blogosphere.
On July 6, ScienceBlogs.com,
a widely read blog, announced a partnership with Pepsico that would
allow Pepsico to blog about, of all things, nutrition.
In the first and only post of Food
Frontiers, as the blog was named, the editors wrote:
"As part of this partnership, we'll hear from a wide range
of experts on how the company is developing products rooted in rigorous,
science-based nutrition standards to offer consumers more wholesome
and enjoyable foods and beverages. The focus will be on innovations
in science, nutrition and health policy. In addition to learning
more about the transformation of PepsiCo's product portfolio, we'll
be seeing some of the innovative ways it is planning to reduce its
use of energy, water and packaging."
The response to the announcement was immediate and almost universally
negative, with writers for ScienceBlogs.com taking the lead. Many
prominent bloggers for the site immediately announced their resignations,
and many others temporarily suspended their interaction with the blog
in protest of the partnership.
The bloggers objected to the idea that a company such as Pepsico,
which is considered to be a major contributor to obesity as a result
of their junk food portfolio, should have a blog on nutrition on a
The bloggers also objected to the idea that Pepsico had paid for the
blogging rights on nutrition, and that the partnership was an attempt
to convey Pepsico's views on nutrition as "science based" and authentic.
The bloggers pointed out that the Food Frontiers blog (edited entirely
by a team of four Pepsico employees) was an extension of Pepsico's
public relations, and should fall in the category of "infomercial"
or advertisement, and not on par with the rest of the blogs on ScienceBlogs.com.
Within a day, the owners of ScienceBlogs.com, Seed Media, offered
to make changes
to the Food Frontiers blog by prominently mentioning that it was
a Pepsico sponsored blog and adding the following:
"This blog is sponsored by PepsiCo. All editorial content
is written by PepsiCo's scientists or scientists invited by PepsiCo
and/or ScienceBlogs. All posts carry a byline above the fold indicating
the scientist's affiliation and conflicts of interest."
The protests against the partnership continued and on July 8, 2010,
just two days after the partnership with Pepsico was announced, Seed
"Pepsico is trying very hard to position itself as a global leader
in nutrition and in tackling obesity. But the vast majority of Pepsico's
products are junk food - they are not nutritious and lead to obesity
and related health problems. Pepsico has to demonstrate its commitment
to good nutrition and this will only happen if Pepsico fundamentally
changes the vast majority of its products. Until then, their views
on nutrition will be rejected, which the company found out the hard
way by getting thrown out of ScienceBlogs.com," said Amit Srivastava
of the India Resource Center.
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +1 415 336 7584
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