Big Soda Personalizing Its Way into Your Heart

How does it make you feel when someone calls you by your first name? How about when you find something with your name emblazoned on it? Stores and amusement parks sell tons of this tchotchke stuff: key chains, mugs, pens, signs and tiny license plates, to name a few, on a spinning rack. There are plenty of times I’ve found myself stopping in a front of one of these to whirl it around to see if “Cindy” shows up anywhere.

Coke has figured this one out as a remedy for their recent falling soda sales. The new Share a Coke and a Smile campaign includes putting individual names on bottles of Coke. Mainly popular names among millennials, and of course, it’s created quite a stir in the search for names. If you don’t see your name, you can go to their website and personalize a bottle. For five-bucks, Coke will send it to you. This campaign has worked so well that people are not only buying soda with their names, they are buying bottles with their friends and family’s names. If they don’t find the name they are looking for, they are telling Coke about it.

Coke is no longer about quenching your thirst anymore. A bottle of Coke is now a special gift you can give to someone you care about. People will tend to buy more if they see names of people they know alongside their own — sales of Coke will increase exponentially. Sure it’s fun and it pulls on the emotional heart string of sharing good times and togetherness. But all this cleverness only plays down the daunting fact that increased intake of sugary drinks is a huge factor in childhood and adult obesity. One thing that can’t be denied, is the idea of finding your name on something is geared toward kids and young adults, which is where these companies always want to start with their advertising, early and as young as possible — so much for the promise not to market to children. Not to mention they also have strategies for targeting low income and certain ethnic groups.

Food or drink used as a reward is usually a bad idea, especially when it comes to children. To show that they are special by giving them a personalized bottle of sugary water is even worse. But parents, who are aware of how big food and beverage companies will go straight for the heart to get to them give over their hard-earned money, are already ahead of the game. For a split second, when making the decision to buy that bottle, when your kid suddenly sees their name, they want you to forget about your child’s nutritional health. Hold your ground, and buy them the tiny license plate instead.


From Cardiothoracic Surgeon to Irresponsible Talking Head?

It would be hard to find someone in the US who hasn’t seen or heard about congress chewing out Dr. Oz about his irresponsible endorsing of dietary supplements, specifically green coffee beans and raspberry ketones, while he humbly hung his head low. He looked like a child getting scolded by his mother. As a cardiothoracic surgeon, we would think he should know better. Is he just getting bored repairing people’s tickers?

It’s well known that Oprah Winfrey gave Dr. Oz his start on TV, but according to a New York Daily News article, at first he had no interest in the media spotlight, and blamed his wife for the idea. She was bothered by the fact that many of his patients’ unhealthy lifestyles eventually required her husband to perform surgery on them. The idea of using TV to talk the public about how not to end up on his operating table, was unheard of. For Dr Oz, it was probably like a child tasting chocolate for the first time. The article goes on to say that despite his busy production schedule, he still does rounds on Thursdays at New York Presbyterian Hospital. There’s a three-week waiting list for an appointment with him for non-urgent issues, and he still performs heart surgery. I hope he’s at least getting his eight hours every night before he makes that first incision.

How do you go from saving lives by performing surgeries that only a hand-full of people on this Earth can do to becoming a talk show host who provides advice that is anecdotal at best, to an audience that probably doesn’t see a doctor regularly, and is only looking for a quick fix.

Is it possible that just because you’re experienced at slicing open a person’s chest to get their heart beating again, that it doesn’t mean you know a thing about diet, nutrition and how the human body uses food for energy, growth, healing and protection from illness and disease? With all those degrees, I doubt it. By spending just a few minutes doing a search for Dr. Oz online, it won’t take long to find that he does have quite “the resume.” So what gives?

Now days negative publicity seems to be more lucrative than good publicity. The Dr. Oz show is still alive and well. He also has another show called NY Med. Proof that he has so many viewers who probably believe him more than their own doctors. Also proof that anecdotal advise is here to stay and continues to draw in the ratings.

What is the Motivation of your Resources?

When we look for information about nutrition and health, do we ever think to question where the information is coming from, who is delivering the information and why they are delivering it? There are many reasons to inform an audience, one big reason I’ve noticed lately is the competition to grab viewers for TV ratings.

TV is by far one of the top ways the public gets their education about nutrition or health. Anyone can have an opinion on weight loss, how to stay healthy or even a claim to cure disease. Talk-shows are falling over each other to get these “experts” to be guests on their show. Usually its a best-selling author of the latest greatest in health information tell-all-book. But who is writing these books? Is it information we can trust? Is the author(s) educated in the field of nutrition or medicine? If not, what are their sources of information? Are they from individuals who are licensed, certified health practitioners with first-hand experience?

To make matters worse some people who hold the credentials as trusted health practitioners are persuaded toward sensationalism. They write a best-seller. They become the host of a TV show. During the time the show airs, I wonder if the desire to help people gets lost in the competition for ratings. Do the topics on these shows cross the line of irresponsibility because of the need to create dramatic or emotional sensationalism as a hook to get viewers to watch every week? Has their role as a health practitioner turned into a new role of the entertainer who becomes hell-bend on ratings and increasing traffic to their website?

The arsenic in apple-juice warning comes to mind. It became a very hot topic last year on the Dr. Oz show. Since when did his show turn from helping people stay healthy with sound advice, into a crusade against food companies and grocery stores?

In my opinion this was very irresponsible programming. He ignited fears in every parent who gave their kid apple juice. He build a strong following based on trust and respect from his audience for years since he first appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. What happened?

What do you think? Below is a link to the Dr. Oz episode on arsenic in apple juice, a link to the FDA’s findings that the arsenic levels in apple juice are safe for consumption, and a news clip of Dr. Oz reluctantly back-peddling in front of a colleague telling viewers that it’s “OK” to drink apple juice.

Shows like Dr. Oz are entertaining to watch, but as viewers they should cause us to wonder, “Do the people producing the show have my personal interest in mind, or is the main goal only to capture ratings?” Sensationalism is a red flag that indicates more research is needed. It is this sensationalism that should prompt us to ask the three questions about what we are watching, “Where is this information is coming from? Who is delivering it? Why they are delivering it?” Then instead of accepting the information as “the gospel,” we should consider looking for reputable resources to validate or disprove it.