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Posted at 04:27 PM ET, 06/08/2012

How to beat the soda industry at its own game: A former Coca-Cola exec lays out his strategy

Todd Putman, a former head of U.S. marketing for carbonated beverages at Coca-Cola who now regrets his work for the industry, said he's "not against soft drinks per se." But he said that when it comes to marketing, the balance of power is far too skewed toward soda companies and against those promoting healthy foods.

"The resources, the scale, the intelligence, the strategy these [soda] companies use is intense."

While Putman believes some regulation of soft drink products is necessary to help even the playing field, he also argued that government officials, activists, and producers of healthy food need to do a better job communicating their message.

 Too often advertisements intended to promote healthy foods are ineffective because they are boring or preachy, Putman said. He cited New York City's recent campaign against soda and junk food as a classic example:

"I don’t want to be told this. I know that message and it does not connect with me," said Putman. "Don't tell me what to do."

 By contrast, Coke and other major soda companies are successful because they appeal to consumers' emotions, Putman said. He offered this recent Coke commercial as a model:
(Screen grab from YouTube.)

Here's a link to the commercial.

"Lead my heart. Connect with the emotional and I am yours forever,” said Putman.

Putman wants makers of healthy foods and their allies to adopt the same tactics as the soda industry.

“We need to take all that thinking . . . all that strategy and convert it — jujitsu it — to healthy products.”

 He praises this series of pistachio advertisements for doing just that:

Putman said he took a similar approach when he helped create these ads for a company that sells baby carrots:

By N.C. Aizenman  |  04:27 PM ET, 06/08/2012

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