With Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — the biggest advance-ticket sales movie of all time — set to open in less than 24 hours, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is trying to cash in on the Harry hype. Even though the infamous anti-consumer-choice group has denounced “‘predatory’ marketing campaigns aimed at children and adolescents,” CSPI is promoting a new website geared toward children that attacks Coca-Cola’s literacy campaign connected with the film.
The bulk of CSPI’s scare site is a bombardment of overstated claims and questionable research meant to make children afraid to drink soda — a rehashing on CSPI’s baseless 1998 report “Liquid Candy,” with the apparent goal of increasing CSPI’s membership funding. (For more on the campaign against soda, see our report Hop on Pop.) CSPI’s Michael Jacobson says the filmmakers should have “made a deal with a broccoli company instead.” This from the guy who says instead of taverns, Americans should frequent “a real fun coffeehouse [or] maybe a carrot-juice house.”
A “small group of protestors, including one dressed as an angry cola can,” tried to rouse the rabble outside an early screening of the film in Washington last weekend, but it seems no one wants a sip of CSPI’s strange brew. Potter author J.K. Rowling says that “Coca-Cola’s global literacy cause will focus on increasing children’s literacy, a cause of particular interest to me.” A Coke spokesperson added, “The idea that they would characterize our sponsorship of the film and our national and global efforts to provide millions of books to children around the world as inappropriate… misses the point for the sake of sensationalism.”