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October 9, 2003

The Big SnApple: New York Schools Get Schwepped Away


In Mid-September, New York City and Snapple, a division of Cadbury-Schweppes, announced an immense $166 million marketing deal that makes Snapple the official drink of America’s biggest city. Among other things, the plump deal gives Snapple exclusive rights to sell water and fruit juice throughout New York’s substantial public school system.

However, the deal raises huge questions. For example, why turn schools into a giant marketing ground? And what’s so swell about selling water to kids when they already get it free? (According to Consumers Union, New York City has the finest water of any city in the country.)

In light of the problems with childhood obesity, the agreement also raises weighty health concerns. Even though Snapple plans to distribute 100 percent juice drinks, like soft drinks, many fruit juices provide sizable calories from sugar. And while fruit contains some fiber, it largely disappears when the fruit is turned into juice.

The agreement also calls for Snapple to begin vending flavored milk (which the company privately anticipates will generate outsized demand). It’s anticipated this product will also have largely questionable nutritional value.

Our "before" and "after" logo for New York City schools:


(before Snapple)


(after Snapple)

  • steve stollman

    take a look at this:
    The Day We Let “Out-of-Home” Advertising Become “In-School” Advertising…We Fail Our Kids
    The road to the biggest prize in sports marketing and its interlocking rings is lined with glowing walls of advertising, some of them well-disguised as vending machines, others soon to take the shape of newsstands and trash receptacles. The billboard contract being discussed today and its liquid-gold sweeteners is a giant mis-step onto a bottle-strewn and slippery slope. The prize here is no medal though, it is the tender eyes and minds, and brand-loyalty, of a city full of already ad-bombarded, and sugar-overloaded children.
    After the outdoor advertising industry and its historically unhealthy and unwelcome products, cigarettes back then, booze today, got evicted from the bucolic countryside in the 1960’s, they soon discovered the cash-starved cities and found a home in our much less than fully-functional bus shelters. Now, after a recent explosion in the number of outdoor ads in the form of phone booths and stretch fabric-covered building sides, this industry is crossing its final frontier and moving indoors. It is no surprise that the process concerning this deal is cloaked in secrecy, as the “Coordinated Street Furniture” franchise has always been, and is similarly and justifiably suspect. What is also worrisome is that these 10,000+ indoor billboards and our 30,000+ phone booth ads will soon be followed by 10,000+ Street Furniture billboards, and uncounted tens of thousands of others. We’re drowning in this stuff, and getting us more used to it earlier in our lives, is no solution.
    The major problem alleged here is not providing a level playing field to all bidders, a situation that certainly can not be tolerated. Frankly, it seems incredible that the CFRC would even consider approving a contract, whose issuance is the subject of an ongoing, possibly criminal, investigation, until that inquiry has been completed. But the product here is also an issue. Buying water? Will anyone monitor the condition of the drinking fountains in schools, to make certain that they are not being maintained even worse than they have been historically, because of this business deal? Does this mean that if you can not afford bottled water, you will you not even be able to find that weak stream of warm highly chlorinated stuff that doesn’t earn the school a dime, and that you’ve almost gotten used to? I guess even a Snapple can look good sometimes.
    The Bush administration is being criticized for planning a rushed, potentially disastrous strategic retreat from Iraq, in order to serve its own upcoming 2004 electoral needs. Well, isn’t this administration’s current rush to market this city, and the commodification of all of our assets, including our children’s minds, as well as being a new money-raising technique, also part of a larger plan to convince the IOC, in 2005, of our suitability to host a big event here in 2012? Whether that goal makes sense or not, some things can not and should not be for sale, and some cannot be rushed. We do not want our school hallways and sidewalks turned into flashy, commercial-strewn passageways, and we need more “Sunshine” on the disposition of our precious resources.
    The stated intention of this administration is to not submit their Street Furniture proposal to charter-mandated community review through the ULURP process, another sign that the city is worried that the public will not be enthusiastic about its plans once they are fully aware of them. We need to do a much better and more careful job than we are doing now of evaluating and mobilizing our assets if we expect to be successful in our endeavors, both to enhance our economic viability and to upgrade the livability of our shared spaces.
    Steve Stollman 49 E. Houston St. NYC 10012 212 431 0600
    testimnony at today’s hearing on Snapple. What a hoot. this thing makes the fulton fish market a flower garden by comparison.

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