'Karmic Debt' Sparks Ex-Coke Exec's Health Push

Todd Putman blasts company's aggressive marketing
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 8, 2012 8:38 AM CDT
A former Coke executive is trying to mend his ways.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Working to ruthlessly promote Coca-Cola has left a former exec convinced he has a "large karmic debt to pay"—so the ad man has reformed. Todd Putman, one of Coke's leading marketers between 1997 and 2000, is now fighting on behalf of health food companies. He told his story at an anti-soda conference yesterday, the Washington Post reports. Coke's disturbing goal, according to Putman: "How can we drive more ounces into more bodies more often?"

"We weren’t about trying to beat Pepsi or Mountain Dew. We were about trying to beat everything." he says. Instead of market share, the company sought "share of stomach," he said. At the time, he focused only on "winning"; now, he wants a "balance of power" between junk food and healthier options. He's particularly disturbed by Coke's efforts to push soft drinks to Hispanics and African Americans, who face higher rates of obesity. A Coke rep defends the company, calling the phrase "share of stomach" a thing of the past and citing voluntary efforts to remove full-calorie drinks from schools.

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