UPDATE: Berekely voters supported the soda tax 75%. Money poorly spent by the soda lobby.
What is up with the bizarre anti soda tax ads in Berkeley? Measure D is a proposed 1 cent per ounce tax on soda distributors on the November ballot. Though it has a bunch of exemptions for nonsoda sweetened beverages, milk, and alcohol, it’s pretty straightforward.
Putting aside, for a moment, the wisdom of having a single municipality unilaterally take on the issue of childhood obesity with a tax on soda, there is nothing confusing about this proposal. Distributors would likely pass on the cost to consumers and the price of a $2 bottle of soda would go up by 16 cents. Boohoo.
That hasn’t stopped the beverage companies from putting up big dollars — $1.675 million — to stop this tax dead in its tracks. On the pro soda tax side, Bloomberg is getting in the game, putting up at least $200,000 of his own money for the cause.
Not surprisingly, the spending is lopsidedly on the side of the beverage companies. I see their ads blanketed around Berkeley. More surprising, though, is the bizarre and ineffective message their ads put forward.
The No on D campaign theme is that the beverage tax is not what it seems, a dark horse tax with sinister motives and implications. However, the symbol by which they attempt to illustrate this nefariousness is an apple-on-the-outside-orange-on-the-inside mutant fruit– an arange or an opple, if you will.
Not so scary. Who hasn’t wished that they could sink their teeth into an orange-apple hybrid? It’s not nefarious, it’s delicious!
If the No on D side wins, it won’t be because of their silly messaging. It will be because they outspent the other side 10 to 1. That’s the unfortunate thing about political advertising: even if your message sucks, if you beat it over people’s heads long enough, it may stick.