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Soda tax debates: A case study of Berkeley vs. Big Soda's social media campaign

2016 | Berkeley Media Studies Group

In 2014, voters in Berkeley, California, were asked to decide whether to place an excise tax on sugary drinks sold within city borders. Berkeley vs. Big Soda, the city's pro-tax campaign, turned to social media to communicate with residents and other audiences. The city made history in November 2014 when it passed the nation's first tax on sugary drinks, despite the beverage industry spending more than $2.4 million on an anti-tax campaign.

Social media is changing how communities and groups communicate and rally to build capacity in election campaigns. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter can support citizens' civic action and have the potential to drive news and political agendas. 

To better understand the pro-tax campaign's social media efforts, John Snow, Inc. and PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group conducted a content analysis of Berkeley vs. Big Soda's Twitter and Facebook posts and examined their social media analytics. Advocates and stakeholders in other communities can use this case study to strategize about using social media in their campaigns to pass sugary drink taxes, fight chronic diseases and protect public health.

See the case study, download the infographic, and read the full study: Soda tax debates in Berkeley and San Francisco: An analysis of social media, campaign materials and news coverage


Berkeley Media Studies Group; John Snow, Inc.

Produced through PHI's:

Berkeley Media Studies Group, Corporate Social Responsibility and Cause Marketing by the Soda Industry