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Coca-Cola's marketing wizardry

From, a Web site protesting a $150-million marketing deal between Coca-Cola Co. and Warner Bros. Warner is the producer of the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which opens today.

The site was created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit nutrition advocacy agency. CSPI has called on author J.K. Rowling to call off the deal and donate the royalties to nutrition campaigns.

"Our intention is to spread the joy of reading, and that is exactly what we are doing," Coke spokesman Andrew Coker told London's Guardian newspaper. "To characterize our involvement in any other way is missing the point for the sake of sensationalism."

_ MIKE WILSON, Times staff writer

On November 16, 2001, Warner Brothers will release in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada the first movie based on the Harry Potter books. In the days, weeks, and months that follow, the movie will open in over 50 countries. . . . Coca-Cola is paying Warner Brothers an estimated $150-million for exclusive global marketing rights for the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. . . . Author J.K. Rowling reportedly is receiving $15-million as part of the deal.

Coca-Cola will feature Harry Potter on packaging and in advertising of its carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks. Rowling is not allowing depictions of Harry drinking Coca-Cola products, and Coca-Cola says that literacy programs, including donations to Reading Is Fundamental, will be part of its marketing program.

But the bottom line is that books adored by children (and adults!) around the world are being used to sell more junk food!

Soft drinks are junk foods. The typical 12-ounce soft drink contains 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of refined sugars. Americans gulp down more soda pop than anyone else. Consumption has doubled over the past 30 years, with companies now producing an average of almost 600 cans per year for every man, woman and child!

Increasing scientific evidence shows that soft drinks have helped fuel the obesity epidemic (twice as many American youths are overweight or obese now than 20 years ago). In many other countries, too, people are consuming more soft drinks, and obesity is a growing problem. . . .

Obesity causes major social and psychological problems. It also increases the risks of such deadly diseases as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Drinking a lot of soda pop is likely to replace more healthful beverages _ such as water, fruit juice and low fat milk _ and thereby increase the risks of osteoporosis (brittle-bone disease) and cancer. Finally, sugary soft drinks promote tooth decay. . . .

Coca-Cola: Big Money for Empty Calories

The Coca-Cola Co. and other soft drink makers spend enormous sums to promote their products. Over the past decade in the United States, for instance, soft drink companies have spent about $6-billion on advertising. . . .

(Coca-Cola chairman Douglas Daft) signed up Christina Aguilera, Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, Disney characters and our beloved Harry Potter to help him make Coca-Cola the "preferred beverage" around the world. He has even said the company is researching how to bring Coke products to your kitchen sink, so you could fill up a glass any time you wanted!

All that to sell a product where we lose with every gulp!