According to New York Times food commentator Mark Bittman, Beyoncé
Knowles has joined a list of celebrities who have entered endorsement deals
for products “that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer.” The singer
has apparently agreed to “have the Pepsi logo painted on her lips and have
a limited-edition Pepsi can bearing her likeness.” She will also be seen during
the “Pepsi Super Bowl halftime show, where she’ll be introduced by 50 of her
luckiest and best-gyrating fans who have been selected through a contest.”

In his article titled “Why Do Stars Think It’s O.K. To Sell Soda?,” Bittman notes
that Knowles supported first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign by
stating that she was “excited to be part of this effort that addresses a public
health crisis,” but has now “become part of an effort that promotes a public
health crisis.”

He observes that product placement and super-star endorsements are both
commonplace and ubiquitous and that some might consider the practice
harmless. “Some will say that soda is food and that there’s no smoking gun
as there is with tobacco,” he states. “But food provides nourishment, and soda doesn’t. In fact it packs calories that provide no satiety and directly cause weight gain.” Bittman calls for “anti-tobacco-style legislation and public
opinion” to counter multi-million dollar soda advertising campaigns and
suggests that Knowles “take some of her creative time and produce a public
service announcement that would positively affect the attitudes of millions
of children and teens on the subjects of health, self-image, nutrition and
exercise.” See Opinionator, January 5, 2013.

In a related development, the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s executive director wrote to Knowles in December 2012 to express disappointment with her “$50 million endorsement deal with PepsiCo.” According to Michael Jacobson, “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 glamour. But by lending your name and image to PepsiCo, you are associating your positive attributes with a product that is quite literally sickening Americans.” He concluded by asking the star to “consider donating your proceeds to a hospital, diabetes organization, or other reputable charity involved in the prevention or treatment of soda-related diseases.”

About The Author


For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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