Public health advocate Julia Havey singlehandedly taking on Coca-Cola
In a modern-day David and Goliath story of might versus right, this Associated Press story is about the courageous and bold actions of motivational speaker, life coach, and author Julia Havey who has filed a lawsuit against one of the most recognizable brand names in the world, Coca-Cola, because of their MyCokeRewards contest which she says the largest soft drink manufacturer is irresponsibly using to target children specifically into overconsuming unreasonable amounts of their products in the hopes of attaining prizes that are simply impossible to win according to the rules of the contest.
Havey held a press conference on Thursday to reveal why she is pursuing this lawsuit in St. Louis, Missouri Circuit Court against Coke.
"We're parents, and this isn't right for our children," Havey said at the press conference in front of the courthouse.
Her lawsuit is not requiring any monetary damages to be awarded, but instead seeks to apply a restraining order against Coca-Cola as well as a permanent injunction that would make them drop their MyCokeRewards contest for good. In fact, Havey remarked that she would gladly withdraw her suit if Coca-Cola agreed to voluntarily end the program, make it open only to people 18 and older, or even change the rules of the contest so it does not require contestants to drink Coke products to collect the points for the prizes.
If Coke just did that, then all of this would go away in an instant. But they won't!
I have known Julia Havey for a little more than a year since I first blogged about her amazing weight loss success story and health endeavors in June 2005, so I know a little bit about the person who is behind this lawsuit against Coke. Julia is an extremely passionate woman who cares very deeply about the health and wellbeing of the people she coaches on healthy living, so she is naturally sensitive and aware of how deceptive marketing practices by food and beverage companies can lead to a further decline in people's health while obesity, diabetes and other weight-related diseases continue to bring devastation to the general public.
Two weeks ago, Julia got so fed up with this impossible-to-win-without-dying-first MyCokeRewards contest that she gave the Coca-Cola company an opportunity to make the contest more realistic than the current requirement by its participants to drink over 150 Cokes a day to attain the codes so they can earn points towards a series of exciting prizes, including an exclusive recording session, the famous red couch from American Idol, a real car hood from a NASCAR vehicle, and a round of golf at the legendary Pebble Beach.
But, predictably, Coke refused to budge.
That's when Julia got creative and decided to use the exact slogan that the Coca-Cola company is using to promote their contest -- DRINK CHOOSE LIVE -- in a brand new public awareness web site located at DrinkChooseLive.com to warn others about this deceptive marketing campaign and encouraging them to contact Coke about changing their contest to make it more reasonable.
Again, not surprisingly, Coke thumbed their nose at Julia.
That's why she decided to file the lawsuit because it was "the only way [the Coca-Cola company] will sit up and listen." We'll see if anything is done now that Coke's attorneys are scrambling in search of a logical defense to justify continuing a contest that is flawed at best and purposefully manipulative at worst.
On their DrinkChooseLive.com web site, Julia, along with her husband Dr. Patrick Havey, explain their reasons for filing this lawsuit at this time and issued a public challenge to any of the executives at the Coca-Cola company:
"My challenge to any Coke executive: Drink 151 12-oz cans of Coke in 1 day."
HA! Do you REALLY think any of them would actually TRY to do it? Don't hold your breath. But that is exactly what they are asking people to do for nearly 300 days in a row, so why wouldn't any of them be willing to do it for just ONE day?
They won't do it because they've been caught with their pants down by someone who actually read the rules of the contest and realized it wouldn't be humanly possible to drink that much Coke if you tried. Why can't they just admit they tried to fool an unsuspecting public and just change the stupid rules already rather than playing the super tough guy role continuing on with their irresponsible little contest? This fiasco really makes Coke look unprofessional and outright ignorant.
With the overabundance of high fructose corn syrup found in these soft drinks which even the World Health Organization (WHO) says is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic, Havey says Coca-Cola must be held accountable for this.
Of course, Julia has already heard from the whimpering naysayers who claim she is suing Coke merely as a publicity stunt to hawk her new book, "The Vice-Busting Diet," scheduled for release on July 25, 2006.
"This lawsuit is outlandish, frivolous and ridiculous," claimed Coke spokesidiot Scott Williamson who said his company has no plans to change their popular contest. "It's regrettable that Mrs. Havey has chosen this avenue to try to sell more books."
Williamson said Julia was "horribly misinformed" about the MyCokeRewards contest and is misleading the public with her hyperbolic antics to drum up support for her book.
Oh really? May I ask just exactly HOW Julia Havey has been "horribly misinformed," Mr. Williamson? All she did was read directly from the contest rules from the cmopany you represent for the MyCokeRewards campaign which said an individual must DRINK all that Coke to accumulate the points for those prizes. What did she get wrong about that? The answer is NOTHING because it's the truth and you know it! Don't try hiding behind spin-cycle semantics, sir, because we will call you out on it, mister! Is that REALLY the best you've got?
In her own defense regarding the ridiculous assertion that this is all about selling books, Julia responded to that charge directly in a way that shows you the true character of this remarkable woman.
"The sales of books is not the end, but the means to an end," she contends. "What is that end? That 'end' is an end to the overweight and obesity epidemic. Sales of books does absolutely no good if the message is not helping others to live healthy. There is a larger purpose, a mission if you will, at work here and that is to put the overweight and obesity epidemic on a decline so that one day society will be healthier."
In other words, as great as a boost in the number of books she sells to people who desperately need to read its message, the greater good in all of this is to actually DO something that will make a real difference in this neverending battle against weight gain and the natural consequences that result from that.
To me, the "she's-only-doing-this-to-sell-books" rebuttal is a straw man argument which shows me the Coca-Cola company doesn't have a good enough excuse to explain their flim-flam contest being set up the way it was. Why haven't they even TRIED to address the specific concerns that Julia has brought to their attention? Doesn't Coke even care about the health and welfare of the millions of customers who buy their products, especially the most vulnerable and biggest reason why this lawsuit was filed -- THE CHILDREN?! Whose looking out for THEIR best interest in this? It's Julia Havey!
She added in this blog post today at her blog that she merely wants to "make the world a healthier place before I depart it" as someone whose life was changed forever by her own triple-digit weight loss success.
"Please, don't feel the need to buy my books, tapes, videos or advice to make positive changes in your life, it isn't mandatory that you do," Julia said. "But please, DO feel the need to refrain from drinking sugar laden beverages, consuming unhealthy, fried, greasy fast food and from living a sedentary life--get your body moving!!"
See what I mean? Does this sound like the crazed lunatic Coke is trying to pain her as who is just trying to grab attention for her book with a frivolous lawsuit? Not hardly! What I see is a deeply compassionate and loving woman who wants nothing more than to see people be freed from a lifetime of bondage to their obesity once and for all because it is one of the greatest things they'll ever accomplish! As a fellow weight loss success story (read more about my 180-pound weight loss success story), I too have a sincere deep-down desire to help other people lose weight permanently and get healthy. What's so wrong with wanting that for our fellow human beings? NOTHING, which is what makes the actions Julia is taking that much more significant in my mind because she is proving this is so much bigger than merely selling books. A lot bigger!
The bottom line is this: Julia has embarrassed the Coca-Cola company by exposing their scam and now they are choosing to hurl derogatory personal insults at her? In fact, can you believe she has been called a "slime," "bit**," "whor*," and even a "liberal" (as if this has anything to do with politics!) in personal e-mails to her about this lawsuit in just the last couple of days? Oh yeah, it's gotten VERY ugly with these personal attacks against her which indicates to me she is doing exactly the right thing pursuing this. I for one believe in what she is doing and think every red-blooded American who understands what Julia is trying to accomplish needs to rally together in a show of solidarity behind this effort.
For people who support this cause by Julia Havey, she needs you to stand side-by-side with her in this battle. If you believe she is fighting a good fight for the right reasons and wish to cheer her on or even join her in some way in this effort, then you can e-mail Julia Havey directly at Julia@JuliaHavey.com. I know she'd love to hear from you about what she is doing as well as any encouraging words you may want to pass along to her.
You can also donate monetarily to Julia's Legal Fund if you want to put your money where you mouth is in support for what she is doing. I know she would appreciate any amount you could possibly spare as she continues on with this very real uphill battle against big bad Coke.
It's time to stand up for what's right and that's exactly what Julia Havey is doing! GO GET 'EM GIRL and KEEP GIVING 'EM THE TRUTH! Our prayers and support are with you during this time. You are a hero to many because of what you are doing. God bless you!