The Real Bears Take America
Animated Short Film Aimed at Soda Industry Goes Viral
The Real Bears—the animated short film that encourages Americans to pour out their sodas—has been viewed more than 1.3 million times since its launch last week. The video, created by ad guru Alex Bogusky for the Center for Science in the Public Interest and featuring an original song by Jason Mraz, spread rapidly on Facebook and Twitter after USA Today called it "the video that Coca-Cola does not want you to see."
Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker who stunned the nation with the 2003 documentary Super Size Me called The Real Bears "one of the most brilliant counter-campaigns ever created."Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food author Michael Pollan called the film "weirdly compelling" and Corby Kummer of the Atlantic wrote "wow." And msnNOW.com wrote of The Real Bears that "this warning against drinking sugary soda is ultimately uplifting, kinda touching and—dare we say it—very sweet."
"Depressing, touching, and effective," is how The New York Times' Mark Bittman put it, observing via Twitter that "anti-soda marketing begins to catch up." Fitness expert Jillian Michaels, publisher Arianna Huffington, Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, and the Today Show's Joy Bauer were among the thousands of people who tweeted about the film.
The film features a family of polar bears under constant assault from soda advertising. Boy Bear's weight gain makes fishing more difficult. Sis suffers from tooth decay. Pop Bear fares the worst, losing a hind leg to a diabetes-induced amputation. But in the end, the family decides to take back their health and happiness by dumping their soda into the sea.
The film is probably not for the youngest of viewers, or the most squeamish. A steamy bedroom scene (okay, not so steamy) might not be appropriate for children; nor will a harrowing sequence in Doc Fox's primitive polar operating theater.
"This is irresponsible and grandstanding and will not help anyone understand energy balance," huffed a Coca-Cola spokesperson. The Real Bears website includes a number of other quotes from Coca-Cola executives, including a false statement from Coke's Katie Bayne: "There is no scientific evidence that connects sugary drinks to obesity."
"Of course there is scientific evidence that connects sugary drinks to obesity, and in the short time since Ms. Bayne made that laughable statement, yet another set of studies has come out making the connection even clearer," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.
Each additional sugary drink consumed per day increases the likelihood of a child 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. Diabetes, in turn, can result in complications that include erectile dysfunction and amputation.
CSPI is encouraging people to make their own "Pour One Out" videos, and is offering a $1,000 cash prize to the most compelling one. (Alex Bogusky will help judge the entries.) The group says that participating in the contest is a great way to participate in Food Day—the nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food that takes place on October 24.
Alex Bogusky will conduct a Twitter chat about The Real Bears on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. ET. People can submit questions using #TheRealBears or #bearchat hashtags.
The film is available at TheRealBears.org.
The Real Bears
Agency: Common (Boulder, CO) and The Butler Bros. (Austin, TX)
Executive Creative Director: Alex Bogusky
Executive Producers: Marty & Adam Butler
Writers: Ronny Northrop & Ryan Kutscher
Art Director: Stefanie Hermsdorf
Account Director: Mark Ekhardt
Producer: Amanda Fox
Director/Designer/Animator: Lucas Zanotto
Music: Jason Mraz
Guitar and mix: Bill Bell
Horn parts: Grooveline Horns
Offline/Online Editor: Travis Wurges
Sound Design: Nikolai von Sallwitz
Mix: Travis Wurges
Web Design: Cyrus Clemensen
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).