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PepsiCo Pop Star Beyonce Asked to Ditch Marketing Deal

An anti-soda group has asked singer Beyonce to ditch an endorsement deal with PepsiCo Inc. (PEP), saying its products contribute to obesity.

“You occupy a unique position in the cultural life of this country and are an inspiring role model for millions of young people,” Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of Center for Science in the Public Interest, wrote in a letter to Beyonce released by the group. “By lending your name and image to PepsiCo, you are associating your positive attributes with a product that is quite literally sickening Americans.”

PepsiCo said last week it had extended its 10-year endorsement relationship with Beyonce in a deal that will include new music and video content, collaborative designs and fresh ad campaigns. Beyonce, a 16-time Grammy-award winning pop singer, will headline the National Football League’s Super Bowl halftime show in February, which is sponsored by PepsiCo.

In past years, the Washington-based CSPI helped pressure Kellogg Co. (K) to adopt nutritional standards for marketing to children, pushed New York City and later the U.S. Congress to mandate menu calorie labels and threatened in 2006 to sue soft drink companies over high-calorie drinks. The group’s 1998 report, “Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming America’s Health,” ramped up pressure on soda makers to more clearly label products and market less to children.

Sugar-sweetened drinks are the largest source of added sugar in youth diets in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Childhood obesity more than tripled in the past 30 years, the agency says.

Obesity-related health problems have a disproportionate impact on low-income, African-American and Hispanic communities, Jacobson said, asking Beyonce to reconsider the Pepsi-Cola deal or donate the proceeds to health causes.

A voice mail seeking comment from Beyonce’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, wasn’t immediately returned. Peter Land, a Pepsi spokesman, declined to comment.

PepsiCo rose 0.2 percent to $70.53 at the close in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Duane D. Stanford in Atlanta at dstanford2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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