Dear Wieden+Kennedy: Just Do It. Just Drop Coke.

Steve Novick

I know it's late to be writing about the Super Bowl, but I also know my Raven fan friends (Stephanie Vardavas for example) won't mind being reminded.

So in December, the Center for Science in the Public Interest expressed its displeasure with Beyonce' for her multimillion-dollar deal to advertise Pepsi, including during the Super Bowl. The Center told the singer that each additional sugary drink consumed per day increases the likelihood of a child becoming obese by 60 percent. That each soda consumed per day increases the risk of heart disease in men by 19 percent. That drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases one's risk for type 2 diabetes by 25 percent. That diabetes, in turn, can cause complications including amputation, erectile dysfunction, blindness, coma, and early death. Food writer and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman rebroadcast CSPI's call to Beyonce' in his column.

I heartily approved of CSPI and Bittman's message: that Beyonce' should make a bold stand for public health by leaving the money on the table and ending her relationship with Pepsi. But then, watching the Super Bowl, I received an uncomfortable reminder that one of Portland's iconic businesses needs to hear the same message that CSPI and Bittman delivered to Beyonce'. Wieden+Kennedy needs to understand that it's not cool to be advertising Coke.

Let me make this perfectly clear (as Nixon used to say): I don't like feeling that I have to criticize W+K. Wieden+Kennedy is great for Portland. They provide good jobs. They're a 'traded-sector' business, meaning that they sell their services to out-of-state businesses (like Coke, for example) and bring the money home; thus, unlike another restaurant or a sports stadium, they add to, rather than simply rearrange, the city's wealth. They're brilliant. They're hip. I'm glad they're here.

But one of the biggest threats to the economy of the United States, including Oregon, including Portland, is rising health care costs. And cost aside, obesity, heart disease and diabetes are pretty yucky. They're not cool. They're not hip. They're no fun.

So I think it would be really, really great if Wieden+Kennedy announced: "You know what? Shilling for Coke is not us. It's not cool. It's not Portland. So we're going to stop doing it, and we hope our competitors in Big Advertising will join us in ceasing to work for Big Soda."

I think that if Wieden+Kennedy did that, they'd become even hipper. In fact, I think they would become The Most Interesting Ad Agency In the World.

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