Timed to coincide with PepsiCo’s limited reintroduction of Crystal Pepsi soft drinks, SumOfUs has launched a viral video campaign to draw atten- tion to its allegations against the palm-oil industry. The video—which spoofs PepsiCo’s 1992 Super Bowl spot—has garnered media attention as well as more than 875,000 views on YouTube.

In particular, SumOfUs reportedly claims that PepsiCo’s palm-oil policy does not cover Indonesia-based producer, IndoFood. According to Rainforest Action Network’s Gemma Tillack, “A nostalgia for rollerblades and fanny packs is fine, but it’s crystal clear PepsiCo needs to open its eyes and realize we are no longer in the 1990’s and deforestation, wildlife extinction and labor abuses are no longer acceptable costs of doing busi- ness.” See Politico.com and Ad Age, August 9, 2016.

Meanwhile, an August 18 Forbes column authored by Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Hank Cardello argues that food companies and marketers “no longer have the sole power to shape consumer tastes and fuel demand for their products” because “[t]hat power has largely been hijacked by new influencers—public health activists, celebrity nutrition- ists, politicians, food bloggers—who have their own agendas.”

Pointing to “national, well-organized campaigns for new restrictions,” such as those advocating sugar-sweetened beverage taxes and labeling for products containing genetically modified organisms, Cardello recom- mends that companies not only get to know their detractors, but learn to better leverage their corporate social responsibility programs. The article also urges companies to protect their brands by making “children, low-income populations, health-compromised individuals, and any other vulnerable group off limits for products and practices deemed less healthy.”

“For food and beverage companies, capturing consumers’ hearts, minds, and spending is only going to get more challenging, especially since a cacophony of unmuted voices is now interrupting their message,” concludes Cardello. “But by listening to those other voices and factoring them into decisions about products and marketing practices, food companies can regain some influence on how consumers perceive their products. Only then will they be able to preserve their brand reputations.”