Can you use social justice to sell soda?

Pepsi thought so and got smacked off the protest line. But there’s more to this issue than a bad ad.

The Vox Senior health correspondent Julia Belluz wrote about the ad that raised quite a bit of rancor: Pepsi’s pulled protest ad is part of a long history of big soda exploiting black and Latino youth

“A new Pepsi ad that sparked public outrage is a sign of just how far soda companies are willing to go to appeal to black and Latino youth,” Belluz wrote. “The ad features a staged protest filled with beautiful, smiling young people (many of them people of color) and the model Kendall Jenner of the Kardashian clan. Near the end of the almost three-minute video, Jenner offers a Pepsi to a handsome young cop, and all is sunny and well in the world.”

Belluz went on to write: “While it’s a new low for soda-company marketing to multicultural youth, it’s also the beverage industry’s latest troubling campaign to sell this group sugary drinks that can harm their health. The public health community has long argued that big soda’s targeting of African Americans and Latinos is exacerbating health problems in those communities. We now have a big pile of evidence that sugary drink consumption is linked to health problems, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay. Low-income African Americans and Hispanics tend to consume higher levels of sugary drinks compared with white Americans. They are also much more likely to be obese and die from diabetes compared with their white counterparts.”

Even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter weighed in on the debate.

“Pepsi announced Wednesday that it was yanking its latest advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner and an ambiguous protest story line,” reported The Washington Post’s pop culture reporter Elahe Izadi.

You may think this is just about a poorly conceived commercial. But pushing unhealthy drinks on folks adds up to big dollars in health-care costs.

Here’s something to think about:
The financial effects of being unhealthy

Why you should be concerned about America’s soda consumption
“According to a study by the American Heart Association, obesity-related health-care costs will reach $344 billion by 2018 and comprise 21 percent of the country’s health-care spending,” the Huffington Post reported. “All Americans, regardless of their sugary-beverage consumption, are fronting the costs of obesity-related diseases through their taxes and higher insurance premiums.”

Color of Money question of the week
What do you think of the Pepsi ad and that it was pulled? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Pepsi.”

Talking taxes today
Join me for a live discussion today at noon (ET). We are talking taxes today.
My guest will be Gil Charney, a certified public accountant and certified financial planner, who is director of tax law and policy analysis at The Tax Institute at H&R Block. He has more than 30 years of experience in tax, accounting, and financial management.

Here’s the link to join the discussion.

Last-minute tax tips
Are you still scrambling to get your taxes done? If so, here are some stories that might help.

Color of Money columns this week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.

Stay informed about your money. Read and share my columns for this week.
The next face of poverty could be yours

Do you have what it takes to be a millionaire?
Last week I asked: What are you willing to sacrifice to become a millionaire?

Here is what some of you had to say.

Kimberly Rotter of San Diego says she’s saving but she’s also living life. She wrote: “My mother-in-law died young, with lots of never-fulfilled plans to enjoy her hard-earned savings. My husband and I learned a very tough lesson from that. We save, but we choose to not miss our chance to experience life now. Cancer runs in both families. There’s no way I’ll miss out on weekends with my loved ones just to put more money in the bank.”

Tiffany Rose Capasso of Oxford, Conn., on the other hand would give up stuff. She writes, “I would sacrifice anything to be a millionaire. I am trying so hard, but I just can’t seem to find my niche. I am a hard worker and would do just about anything to make it happen. I just don’t know what. My boyfriend and I just bought a house. We are 30 years old and have to support my mother and it is very hard. I would love to make more money. Any tips would be appreciated?”

Here are some articles that may give you some ideas on how to make extra money:
21 legit ways to make money online

Want to be rich? “No one seems to mention this first and crucial step — don’t have children,” wrote Esther Murphy of Lexington, Ky.

Sure, you give up some dough to have children but they are priceless right?

“I understand the importance of saving for retirement, but what about the quality of life we enjoy on this day?” asked Bryan Hudson of St. Louis, Mo. “Giving up weekends, friends, fun, enjoying what life has to offer in lieu of stockpiling money for retirement, what’s the point? Who says we’ll even make it to see retirement? How will anyone enjoy retirement or the finances they’ve saved if they’ve never experienced any of life’s joys along the way? I believe there should be a balance. One can be wise and happy, planning for your future along the way, opposed to fanatic, and maybe never knowing happiness.”

Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.