Katy Perry doesn't have an official endorsement deal with Pepsi, but that hasn't spared the singer from being targeted by several consumer advocacy groups. In the Tuesday, Oct. 22, edition of Variety, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and six other organizations placed a one-page ad shaming the pop star for promoting the soft drink.
"Virginia Slims and other tobacco companies used glamorous celebrities and models to position smoking as hip, sexy and rebellious," the open letter reads. "Today soda companies are using you and other celebrities to convince young people that drinking soda is hip, sexy and rebellious. 'Drink Pepsi and you can be cool like Katy Perry,' is the takeaway message for your young fans. 'Live for now' and worry about the health consequences later."
"Kids love you, Katy Perry. You count many millions of teens and tweens among your ‘KatyKats.' Their devotion to you has brought incredible commercial success and wealth. But being popular among children brings with it an enormous responsibility," the ad tells Perry, 28. "Don't exploit that popularity by marketing a product that causes disease in your fans."
Unlike Beyoncé, Perry has no formal contract with the company—although they have worked together in the past. Prior to the MTV Video Music Awards in August, Pepsi asked fans to vote on which Prism song the pop star should release next. The company also hosted a campaign for her 3D concert movie, 2012's Katy Perry: Part of Me.
Other signatories on the open letter include the Berkeley Media Studies Group, California Center for Public Health Advocacy, California Endowment, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.
"It's a sad story that some of the best-known celebrities in the country are encouraging their young audiences to drink beverages that are bad for their health," Michael Jacobson, executive director of CSPI, tells USA Today. "We're focusing on Katy because she's so popular with young people."
With 45 million Twitter followers and eight No. 1 hits to her name, Perry is indeed more popular than ever. But can she really be blamed for pedaling an unhealthy lifestyle? Jacobson certainly thinks so.
In a statement obtained by E! News, Pepsi spokeswoman Andrea Foote said, "We have a long history of responsible advertising and marketing practices, including a commitment to not direct our advertising to audiences comprised predominantly of children under 12."
Perry's rep declined to comment.
The "Grown Woman" singer stood her ground in an interview with Flaunt, telling the magazine, "Pepsi is a brand I've grown up seeing my heroes collaborate with. The company respects musicians and artistry. I wouldn't encourage any person, especially a child, to live life without balance."