Judging by the print ads, radio spots, plane-flown banners, and protest held at city hall on Monday, New Yorkers may think that their fellow citizens are angrily rallying against Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s proposed ban of soft drinks over 16 ounces at certain stores.
Radio ads featuring thick New York accents tell listeners: “No one tells us what neighborhood to live in, what team to root for, or what deli to eat at,” the ad says. “Are we going to let out mayor tell us what size beverage to buy?”
“It’s unbelievable!” a male voice yells.
The radio spot complements other ads against the proposed rule, including a sign that flew over New York and New Jersey beaches during the July 4 holiday that read “No Drink 4 U: New Yorkers for Beverage Choices,” a play on the New York-centric Seinfeld episode in which the “Soup Nazi” tells customers “No Soup For You!”
The ads are produced by a group called New Yorkers for Beverage Choice, a coalition of restaurant and business owners against the ban, which the mayor is touting as a way to cut obesity. The group’s website features a list of more than 400 such members, but each of the ads features the name of the American Beverage Association.
The ABA, an industry lobby for makers of non-alcoholic beverages (including sodas and sports drinks), has paid for the creation and execution of the ad campaigns. The NYC Beverage Choices website is registered to the Washington, D.C., public relations firm that represents the ABA, Goddard Gunster. Calls to the ABA, New Yorkers for Beverage Choice, and Goddard Gunster were not returned.
Whether New Yorkers who are not part of the ABA actually care about the proposed beverage ban remains to be seen. The city’s Board of Health will hold a public hearing on the matter on July 24, and then decide on whether to endorse the ban.
Meanwhile, a rally held Monday in front of New York’s City Hall touted as the “Million Big Gulp March” drew only a few dozen actual New Yorkers to complain about Bloomberg’s tactics, according to news reports.