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September 4, 2003

Coke Enabling PTA?

Sparkling article in the NYTimes Business Section yesterday. It reiterated the news, from June, that Coke had become an official sponsor of the National PTA. However, the story popped the lid on news that John Downs, Coke’s senior vice president for public affairs and chief lobbyist, had been given a seat on the PTA’s board.

Despite the bubbling conflict of interest, Mr. Downs (who is also a board member of the Council for Corporate and School Partnerships) claims that his appointment does not suggest he’s in it to refresh company profits.

The piece also outlined the cola firm’s sugary attempts to hold onto school vending machine contracts. The company plans to sweeten their hold by locking school districts into sticky long-term contracts. They also intend to water down health complaints by filling up school machines with non-carbonated Coke brands. Finally, the company has been effervescent about its recent decision to halt all marketing efforts to children under twelve. This announcement, however, is pretty artificial, given the ethics of young children guzzling ads. It also masks the intensified effort Coke is pouring into middle and high school marketing.

What The Company Had To Say (with our comments, of course):


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