The video: The whimsical animated short "The Real Bears," produced for The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), follows a family of cartoon polar bears — clearly stand-ins for Coca-Cola's iconic spokes-creatures — who do little but guzzle brown soda. (Watch video below.) The twist: "After the happy polar bears slide down the ice hill on their tummies and enjoy a refreshing cola," says Laine Doss at The Miami New Times, "they suffer a few health hazards" like crippling obesity, type 2 diabetes, and erectile dysfunction. The controversial video, set to an ironically sunny original song penned by Jason Mraz, is calculated to explode the myths of Big Soda. "Coke and Pepsi aren't selling happiness," writes Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the CSPI, at The Huffington Post. "They're selling a nutritionally worthless product that's over-consumed to the extent that it leads to amputations, erectile dysfunction, and painful dental decay."
The reaction: "Well, this isn't what you'd expect from the happy-go-lucky polar bears," says Marcy Franklin at The Daily Meal. By going out of its way not to sugarcoat its message, this shocking ad has predictably ruffled feathers in the soda industry: In a statement, a Coca-Cola rep calls the video "irresponsible and the usual grandstanding from the CSPI." But "Coke and Pepsi have skillfully cultivated incredibly strong emotional bonds with consumers around the world even though their products actually cause quite a bit of misery," Jacobson counters. "We don't have their budgets, but we do have the truth. And the truth is that soda equals sadness." See for yourself: