Does Soda = Happiness? CSPI Builds a Happiness Stand to Find Out

Video Seeks to #ShareHonesty on Soda

October 27, 2015

When one opens a Coke, one “opens happiness.” At least according to Coca-Cola. The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest decided to test the proposition that soda equals happiness by building a Happiness Stand at a busy pedestrian intersection. And to ask some of the nation’s smartest commercial advertising talent to film the stunned reactions of the stand’s visitors as “happiness,” with all the sugar of soda, is prepared before their very eyes.

“Fifty years ago Americans were told that more doctors smoked Camels than any other cigarette,” said CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson. “These days, Coca-Cola tells Americans that soda equals happiness, and suggests that soda’s health harms can be undone by dog walking, bowling, laughing, or by otherwise ‘balancing’ energy. When people see how much sugar is in soda, its link to happiness seems to vaporize pretty quickly.”

The Happiness Stand is the latest short film produced by CSPI aimed at shifting the public conversation about soda and encouraging critical thinking about soda-industry advertising tactics. In June, the group released Change the Tune, a video that recast Coca-Cola’s famous “Hilltop” ad and its “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” lyrics with people suffering from soda-related diseases singing about their conditions. Last month, the group released Share a Coke with Obesity, a short film that poked gentle fun at Coke’s personalized bottle program. (“Customizing Coke’s labels is fun, but Coke shouldn’t customize the truth about their products,” the film states.)

The creative team behind the series is led by Alex Bogusky, formerly of Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Scott McDonald and Gavin Anstey of the Denver-based Lumenati agency, and Mike Howard of Daughters & Howard.

Though consumption of sugar drinks has dropped gradually since 1998, soda and other sugar drinks are still major contributors to diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and obesity, tooth decay, and other health problems. CSPI, other health nonprofits, and a growing number of health officials are seeking to reduce soda consumption further with a combination of media campaigns and changes in public policies. CSPI has pushed for sugar-drink taxes, worked to reduce the availability of soda in schools and public places, urged restaurants not to offer soda with kids’ meals, sought limits on the sugar content of beverages, and criticized celebrities and athletes for endorsing sugary drinks.

Viewers of The Happiness Stand are urged to share the film on social media using the hashtag #ShareHonesty.

“It isn’t happiness,” says the video of soda. “It’s just sugar and water … and a billion dollars in advertising.”

The Happiness Stand

  • Agency: Lumenati
  • Executive Creative Director: Alex Bogusky
  • Writer: Michael Howard
  • Executive Producer: Gavin Anstey
  • Creative Director: Scott McDonald
  • Director of Photography: Brad Conner
  • Director of Audio: Connor Birch
  • Lead Editor/Assistant DP: Frederick Remington
  • Producer: Andrew Aldrich
  • Sound Design: Play Plus Record


Get Updates Via Email

Journalists can receive CSPI news releases via email.
Not a journalist?

Sign Up for Email Now



Subscribe Now

Subscribe Now »

Subscribe Today and Save!

In Recent Issues

Cover Story: 1 in 8: What You May Not Know About Breast Cancer

Special Feature: Soy Oh Soy: Is It Really Bad For You?

Brand-Name Rating: Pasta Sauce

Subscribe Now

Request permission to reuse content

The use of information from this site for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without written permission from CSPI.