Introducing "The Real Bears" Animated Short Film Takes on Big Soda
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is escalating its longstanding campaign to reduce the consumption of soda and other sugary drinks today with the release of an animated short film exposing the drinks' unhappy health consequences.
The Real Bears tells the story of a family of polar bears who, even in their distant Arctic environment, are not immune from sunny marketing messages from Big Soda. The whole family is consuming too much soda… and is experiencing everything from weight gain to tooth decay to problems in the bedroom. Only after recuperating from a terrifying visit to Doc Fox's chilly surgical suite does Pop Bear come to realize that soda has brought nothing but sadness to his family. In the film's stirring denouement, he leads his family to reclaim their health—and their happiness.
The film features an original song, "Sugar," by Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Jason Mraz which he wrote and performed with the San Diego-based rapper MC Flow.
Though consumption has declined slightly in recent years, soda and sugary drinks still are the biggest single source of calories in the American diet, accounting for about 7 percent. And while Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and other soda companies spend lavishly to position the products as sources of happiness, sugary drinks are directly linked to obesity and diabetes. Each additional sugary drink consumed per day increases the likelihood of a child's becoming obese by about 60 percent. Drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases one's risk for type 2 diabetes by 27 percent. The Real Bears family learns—like many real American families have—that these conditions and their complications are sources of sadness, not happiness.
"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," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "The Real Bears seeks to get people thinking about what they're drinking. We don't have their budgets but we do have the truth. And the truth is that soda equals sadness."
CSPI turned to advertising guru Alex Bogusky, formerly co-chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, for creative direction when the group decided to produce a short film aimed at repositioning soda. Among other things, Bogusky helmed advertising campaigns for Burger King, Coke Zero, Microsoft, and the pioneering anti-tobacco Truth Campaign. Marty and Adam Butler of the Austin, TX.,-based The Butler Bros. served as executive producers and asked Helsinki-based animator Lucas Zanotto to direct and design.
"I like the taste of soda and I've had my share and I don't imagine a world without soda," Bogusky said. "But the reality is that over the years sugary drinks have gone from an occasional treat to an everyday, every-occasion beverage. This project attempts to contrast the marketing hype around soda with the stark reality and it is my hope that it makes some small contribution to a critical cultural awakening. We need to begin to connect the dots between what we are sold, what we eat, and how sick we have become," said Bogusky.
"No one's saying you can't have the occasional soda," said Mraz. "But by calling attention to some hazards of sugar consumption perhaps folks will choose healthier options. I have had people close to me devastated by the effects of over-consuming sugar and soda on a daily basis over many years. I hope The Real Bears inspires people to think about what they drink and make a change for the better."
"Anyone who ever chugged a soda should watch this film," said Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker behind the 2003 documentary Super Size Me.
The film is available at TheRealBears.org.