Food Nation

Controversy Fizzing Over New Diet Pepsi "Skinny Can" Campaign

Diet soda in a thinner can. A visual reflection of the body you're working towards or looking to maintain by cutting out empty calories. Hey, it makes sense. So why is there so much controversy surrounding Diet Pepsi's new "Skinny Can"?

Well, for one, that's not exactly the marketing pitch used to announce the debut last week. The press release reads: "In celebration of beautiful, confident women, Diet Pepsi presents the taller, sassier new Skinny Can at New York's Fall 2011 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Feb. 10-17." Jill Beraud, Chief Marketing Officer, PepsiCo, adds, "Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today's most stylish looks, and we're excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world."

And it goes on like that for a while, repeatedly referring to the Skinny Can as "attractive," often partnered with the word "slim" (words that seem to be interchangeable in the entertainment and fashion industry), and sparking debate among critics.

One of the most outspoken opponents of the campaign is National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). The organization fired back with a press release of their own two days later, in which president and CEO Lynn Grefe calls PepsiCo's message "thoughtless and irresponsible," going on to say, "Their shameful misdirection is further exemplified by tying the launch of this offensive marketing campaign to Fashion Week, where women's body types are atypical at best ... and unhealthy as to be fatal at worst." This is not the group's first stand against a Fortune 500 corporation. Apple's initial iPod campaign ("You can never be too thin or too powerful") was taken down shortly after being contacted by NEDA.

According to PepsiCo, "The attractive new can will be available to consumers in stores nationwide in March in addition to existing packaging." In other words, you'll still be able to buy the short, fat, dumpy cans too.

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Lauren Marmaduke
Contact: Lauren Marmaduke