Governor Schwarzenegger Sells Junk Food In Political Ads for Corporate Donors

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Consumer Group Calls For Ads’ Removal, Gov. To Re-Pay State

Santa Monica, CA — Governor Schwarzenegger should pull a political commercial off the air that promotes the junk food products of his campaign donors, consumer advocates said today. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) called on Schwarzenegger to return the quarter-million dollars he received from companies featured in the ad, and for the corporations to pay the market value of the advertising to the state because it is improper for the governor to use public office to sell corporate products.

The TV ad, released in May, features Schwarzenegger talking to people in a lunchroom, and places Pepsi and Arrowhead Water in prominent spots next to the governor for 1/3 of the ad. Donors connected to Pepsi Co. and Arrowhead Water’s parent company, Nestle, gave the governor a total of $279,800 in campaign contributions. Also recognizable on-screen are Ruffles, Sun Chips, Cheetos and a SoBe Beverage, all brands owned by Pepsi.

View the ad at:

The practice, known as “product placement,” is unheard of in political advertising. In fact, political ads typically avoid using logos because companies may not want to be associated with a particular candidate or issue. However, studios receive significant payments for featuring a product in a film or television show.

“Schwarzenegger has turned the governor’s office into a vending machine. It is inconceivable that Schwarzenegger didn’t know that Pepsi and Arrowhead were in his commercial, or that the free air time and lucrative association with the Governor of California would benefit them. The governor should return their quarter million in campaign cash, and repay the state for misusing his office as a corporate spokesman for his political donors,” said Carmen Balber, consumer advocate with FTCR. “Every second of a political ad is important, so every second is planned. As a Hollywood actor and businessman, Governor Schwarzenegger knows that product placements are worth millions to corporate sponsors.”

Pepsi gave the governor $30,000 in campaign contributions. The CEO of Nestle, the parent company of Arrowhead, gave Schwarzenegger $21,200. Another Nestle family company, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, and company executives gave the governor $228,600.

In March, at the Arnold Fitness Weekend, Schwarzenegger proposed a ban on all junk food in schools.

“Governor Schwarzenegger said he wanted to remove junk food from our schools — he should be willing to pull political ads off the air that hawk junk food for his donors at California’s expense,” said Balber.

Schwarzenegger should disclose who the people are in the advertisement, whether they were paid, and where the ad was shot, said FTCR.

Governor Schwarzenegger has received attention for appearing to promote his donors’ products in the past, including: a campaign-style stop at Galpin Ford where the governor urged Californians to buy cars — Galpin & owners gave the governor $97,000; and an appearance at a groundbreaking at Dole’s corporate headquarters — Dole and affiliated companies gave Schwarzenegger $421,600.

Pepsi was also promoted in Schwarzenegger’s movie, Terminator 2, with a marketing plan described by one film magazine as “the sledgehammer approach taken to promote Pepsi in T2.”

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Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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