British Soft Drinks Association

The Challenge

In March 2016, the Government announced plans for a Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which would target soft drinks containing added sugar. Portland worked with the British Soft Drinks Association and its members, including Coca-Cola, AG Barr, PepsiCo and Britvic, to develop a coalition to campaign against the tax. All were impacted by the tax differently so our challenge was to create a campaign that would bring together the whole industry against the tax. There was also a need to build a coalition of support for the campaign, demonstrating that the tax would not only hit the soft drinks industry but would have a wider negative impact on the whole economy.

The Approach

We worked with BSDA to identify Oxford Economics and commission an independent economic analysis of the tax, to assess the impact on various sectors such as small shops, bars and pubs, and the soft drinks supply chain. This data was then used to encourage 21 businesses and trade associations in these sectors to join our coalition. We developed a campaign name – “Face the Facts, Can The Tax”, as well as a brand, website, advertising collateral, and campaign narrative. The campaign argues for the Government to look at the facts when it comes to tackling obesity, in particular where taxes have failed in other countries, and to appreciate the impact the tax will have on jobs across the UK. We equipped coalition members to mobilise their own members to make their voices heard by writing to their MP and to the Chancellor. We also generated significant media coverage to highlight the 4,000 jobs at risk from the tax as well as the negative impact on investment in the economy.

The Outcome

The campaign mobilised 2,000 small businesses to write to the Chancellor to express their opposition to the tax, and 750 people wrote to their MP asking them to raise their concerns with the Chancellor. The 21 coalition members were equipped to submit responses to the Treasury consultation explaining their opposition to the policy. We secured coverage in over 150 publications across mainstream media, political publications and trade media. We achieved 637,000 impressions on Twitter and attracted almost 10,000 views to the campaign website. Portland’s work has enabled the BSDA to significantly increase their campaigning capacity, and has provided opportunities for the industry to highlight what they have already done to reduce sugar in their products. The campaign is ongoing.


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