Chicago’s Reviled Soda Tax is Getting a $2M Commercial Campaign
A new, penny-per-ounce tax on all sweetened, pre-packaged beverages in Chicago--aka the "Pop Tax"--went into effect on August 1st, and not surprisingly, poll after poll has shown that the majority (68%) of those asked about the pop tax absolutely hate it.
Chicago's pop tax has also been called the "Toni Tax" after Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who broke a tie vote in November to approve the tax. She initially contended she was motivated by the health concerns voiced by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She has since acknowledged it was more to raise revenue.
The tax applies to a wide range of drinks sweetened by sugar and artificial zero-calorie sweeteners, but leaves many exceptions. For instance, alcoholic beverages, pure fruit juice and some nutritional shakes are not affected by the tax.
Given the widespread anger and complaints about the tax, Michael Bloomberg has decided to kick out about $2 million on a series of new radio, TV, and digital ads that support the pop tax.
According to Crain's Chicago Business:
The former New York City mayor tomorrow will begin airing what a spokesman says will be a $2 million-plus TV ad campaign in the Chicago media market. The spot depicts a teenager in front of a vending machine. Only, instead of cans of pop, there are signs saying "obesity," "tooth decay," "kidney failure" and the like.
In the background, an announcer declares, "When kids drink soda pop, they're getting a lot more than they bargain for." The announcer goes on to mention that drinking just one can of soda a day can make a child gain 10 pounds a year in weight, and declares that a soda tax "can make a difference" by making children healthier and providing money for county health programs.
The ads, which also will run on radio and online, were commissioned after Bloomberg "decided it was important to counter all the one-sided advertising from the soda industry," said a spokesman. "This is a campaign to counterbalance all the special interests that profit off soda."
The pop tax was set to go into effect on July 1st, but the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) filed suit to stop the measure. The tax began on August 1st. Bloomberg's group denies the ad buy is to counter Preckwinkle's plummeting approval ratings.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association's chief, Rob Karr, had this to say about the 2 million dollar commercial purchase:
“It's interesting that they're leading with deception again. (The levy) has never been about health. It's always been about revenue. That's why (the county) sued us for $17 million” after imposition of the tax was held up for month."
Here's the ad:
And a pretty good explanation of how the pop tax works: