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Sponsorship gone bad: what not to do!

obesity cokeGetting company sponsorship can be a great thing if you are an author but there are very obvious companies you should avoid when looking for sponsors. 

Take this example I recently saw on the Facebook page of Dr. Garth Davis.

“The Obesity Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the Coca Cola Company!”  

Will Kriski said this: “They should take out the word Society… i.e.

“Obesity gratefully acknowledges the support of The Coca Cola Company.” 

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad!  I find this too shocking for words – I’m quite speechless! 

I’m thrilled to hear a physician like Dr Garth Davis is equally disappointed: “I can’t tell you how disappointed I am” … “Coke and soft drinks are a huge part of the obesity problem.”

obesity dr garth davis

Common sense dictates that you should find sponsors who are aligned with your goals and mission statement as you look for sponsors for your company and your book.

What do you think?  Are your sponsors aligned with your goals and mission?  Please do share in the comments below.…your goals and mission and a sponsor of yours who is aligned with these.

As an author, exhibiting at conferences is a great opportunity to find sponsors – the right sponosors!  We’ll be discussing this and much more during the upcoming series on speaking, teleseminars, telesummits, poster presentations and exhibiting.  Join me on a free content-rich call to learn more.  Sign up here for the call details.

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20 Responses so far.

  1. Well Trudy I have to admit I chuckled when I read that! But you are right it is quite a misalignment of goals and values.

  2. I’m not sure I agree…

    Coca-Cola itself is not the problem. It is the over-indulgence in sugary beverages that can cause trouble.

    I think it is awesome that Coca-Cola would like to help people understand how to avoid or let go of obesity in their lives. Their money helps people attend an important event.

    I used to secure corporate sponsorships for big exhibitions, and sometimes the non-obvious fit (like the one you show) can actually work best for all involved.



    Katherine C. H. E.
    Author, Be True Rich

    • Trudy Scott says:

      Wow, Katherine! I am quite surprised by this response but I do appreciate your honesty! It’s certainly interesting to see how people think.

      You say: “Coca-Cola itself is not the problem. It is the over-indulgence in sugary beverages that can cause trouble” – my response to this is that they make the sugary beverages and market them aggressively. [Some would say they market them brilliantly 🙂 ]

      So they contribute directly to the very problem that the Obesity Society is trying to address! I doubt they want to help people with obesity. We know these big food and beverage companies actually work to find ways to get their target market addicted to their products!

      I would never have a fast food/junk food company sponsor my work in the food-mood-antianxiety work. I guess we just have to do what feels good and authentic.


  3. Sue Painter says:

    I agree that the organization might have looked elsewhere for sponsorships more in line with their stated goal and values. On the other hand, it’s sometimes hard to come up with sponsorships so everyone takes the easy way and hits up the big guys.

    • Trudy Scott says:

      That’s the problem Sue – often it’s the big bad boys that have money. Just see how companies like this sponsor playing fields at schools. It’s really not ok in my humble opinion!

  4. Michael Hancox says:

    Hi Trudy,

    There is a whole very mixed bag here. Coca Cola has apparently started a whole “campaign” around fighting obesity – which in and of itself is not a bad thing. Perhaps they are sincere, but even if it is hypocrisy sometimes hypocrisy is the first step towards real change. But what is somewhat worrisome is that while they are promoting the idea that they are supporting anti-obesity programs, they are fighting Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts in NYC to limit the sale of super-sized beverages. Reminds me of GE who had the whole “eco-imagination” campaign going while they were fighting to avoid cleaning up their hazardous waste spills.. I would give Coca Cola some room here – but keep a very close eye on their actions moving forward to see if they are serious or its just a PR gimmick. But as for allowing them to sponsor an anti-obesity meeting – I wouldn’t do it..

    • Trudy Scott says:

      Hi Michael
      Thanks for weighing in! I didn’t know they are supporting anti-obesity programs but have to admit I’m not convinced!

      I will admit that I don’t agree with limiting of super-sized beverages myself. I feel, instead of legislation, we need to address the underlying causes of why people are drawn to sugary beverages in the first place i.e. poor diet, brain chemical imbalances, candida, not getting enough sleep etc.


  5. Hi Trudy,

    I read all the previous comments before making my own comment, and I just have to say- it’s definitely interesting! My first reaction was to laugh, and then to acknowledge how messed up it is. Coca Cola is hugely responsible for obesity. Of course you can say people need to be responsible for themselves, but I still think it is messed up to attempt to create unhealthy products and then push them onto others. At least, for me that is true. My mission is to empower people to live the healthiest lives they can live, and you can bet I will never have coca cola as a sponsor- haha. See! I laughed again! It’s just such a gross misalignment that it makes me laugh. Ah well.

  6. Mitch Tublin says:

    This has me wondering if it would be possible to create a national health insurance program based upon a weight/age/frame chart ( add a 15% across the board for the baseline ), smokers fee and a few others. Each year all of these numbers and facts are verified. If you ‘overconsume’ or smoke or other items you pay a higher rate.

    Regarding ‘soft drinks’ my wife and I and our four children never touch the stuff. We would not
    ask for the sponsorship dollars from a company who sells, produces and markets these products or tobacco products.

    • Trudy Scott says:

      I’m on board with being rewarded for living a healthier lifestyle! why not! it’s a great incentive

      And I’m pleased to see you and your family don’t drink soft drinks and agree with this bad sponsorship choice.


  7. This is so overwhelmingly sad. And what makes it even sadder is how many consumers don’t make the connection. Michele Simon calls this “nutriwashing,” the use of a positive media spin to change public perception of a company whose ingredients/foods contribute to ill health.

    While talking about freedom of choice is all well and good is does not really address the problem. How do we counteract the tens of millions of dollars these companies spend to psychologically analyze what appeals to people, especially children, the most when it comes to their food choices. Small contributions to healthy organizations or events does not negate the overwhelming marketing slam nor lessen impact that these negative foods choices have on health in the first place.

  8. It is very unfortunate that the Obesity Society could not find a company that was more aligned with their mission. I’m assuming they really needed the money. However, it is very difficult to take an organization seriously when they say they are promoting health/wellness and then they partner with soft-drink producers. No one should drink that stuff ever, whether they are obese or not.

  9. Heidi Alexandra says:

    This is so interesting Trudy and kind of makes me think it is like a cancer cause being sponsored by a cigarette company! As a lecturer in Marketing and Brand at University we often consider Coca-Cola as a brand case study. Interestingly in 2013 they dropped for the first time in 17 years from being the world’s #1 brand to #3 (Apple are now in the top spot).
    How did they do it? From massive advertising and marketing budgets – they actually spend more on marketing than they do on making the soda!!

  10. Lisa Manyon says:

    WOW, Trudy,
    That’a an epic positioning fail. It’s so important that any sponsors or sponsorship opportunities are in alignment with the core values of the business.
    Very interesting that some people so clearly miss the mark.
    Write on!~