The Force Awakens

There’s been a disturbance in the force.

In an entirely unexpected move Emperor Osborne has announced a sugar tax, a political tactic in his fight with Camo-Ren for the future of the Senate. Plucky Jamie Skywalker and the noisy Rebel Health Alliance are in fist-pumping celebratory mood (I’m not sure I can keep this going…).

Things are rarely as black and white or good versus evil in the real world, and the new tax so far seems to have created little more than confusion and uncertainty… is this a meaningful moment, or just so much hot air?

This is a feeling not helped because there are more questions than answers: why just fizzy cans of pop and not some of the high-sugar smoothies and juices too? Why not any other categories? Why make us pay more for fizzies, but also continually reduce the amount of physical activity kids do in school? Will big business just absorb the hit? Is it really 10p on a 330ml can? Will it vary depending on how high the sugar content is? Has the Treasury thought this through well-enough to withstand the inevitable legal challenge..?

Regardless of the rights, wrongs and politics of a small-state-believing government meddling in/improving your lunch-box like this, from a brand perspective, it does seem, as Jamie says, that this *could* be a profound development: one of the world’s most important economies has placed an extra levy on some brands it sees as nutritionally bad.

It could be, although in and of itself, I’m not sure it will make that much difference to the weight of the country, or the weight of the burden on the country.

For this to have real meaning, the crack needs to come under more pressure.

Imagine other governments around the world follow suit, rendering the legal challenge prohibitively expensive.

Imagine the corporate world reads the (unsweetened) tea leaves and significantly speeds up the shift of spend, support, resource and innovation towards brands which have some nutritional benefit.

Imagine the suits at some soft drinks companies see this as a definitive moment, decide to work with rather than against the prevailing wind and move to house their biggest sports sponsorship under the most nutritionally positive brand in their portfolio.

Imagine other brands actually (shock horror) reformulate.

Imagine the multiples giving more space for good, and less for bad.

Imagine investors more willingly investing in that new tasty water brand with added protein.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but none of these things are toooo far from the realm of possibility.

And I’m not the only one pretty sure additional pressure on this new fissure would be A Good Thing.

I won’t bet my lightsabre on any of the above happening tomorrow, but I am sure of two things: firstly small cracks have a habit of widening and secondly, the rebels blew up the Death Star in the end.

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