PepsiCo maneuvered marketing genius this week by convincing the Indian Medical Association to endorse the health benefits of Tropicana fruit juice and Quaker Oats for three years.
Now, when Indians reach for these products, they’ll see a stamp of approval from the IMA. In turn, Pepsi will sponsor IMA events and forums. This so-called noncommercial deal is the first of its kind globally.
The Indian Medical Association, an organization with 175,000 members, is India’s equivalent to the American Medical Association. It has received harsh criticism for the deal. The Times of India ran opposing viewpoints Thursday on the endorsement.
"The IMA cannot be seen to be favouring any one corporation over its rivals when it comes to benefits that flow from a healthy diet," the opposing editorial states.
In the IMA’s defense, a columnist wrote, "Brand promotions of healthy products of a corporation like PepsiCO — that’s more of a cola company — will help it diversify its operations in holistic areas that enhance, rather than compromise, public health."
Did Pepsi ghostwrite that?
Ten years ago, the American Medical Association had to backtrack on an agreement to endorse Sunbeam medical supplies after its members responded with fury. The AMA’s violation of an unwritten 40-year-old rule against product endorsements caused four top officials to resign.