I’d like to teach the world to sing…

From an interview with Eric McCarthey, senior vice president of national sales an marketing for Coca-Cola in the August 2001 edition of QSR magazine:

QSR: At what age to you want a kid to know the Coke brand, to ask for a Coke by name?
McCarthey: Actually to request a Coke?

QSR: Yes, to know that Coke tastes like Coke, and Coke isn’t Pepsi. How young do today’s strong brands want kids to be when they make these brand preferences and begin brand loyalties?

McCarthey: Well, if you’re talking about it from a quick-service restaurant operator’s standpoint, it is probably more important to establish a brand connection at a young age. This whole explosion of kids’ marketing, kids’ meals, the branded alliances that a lot of customers are trying to do to make their kids’ meals relevant, that’s all about starting at a pretty young age. But if you’re asking the question from a soft-drink perspective, you’re talking about a different age: around twelve years or thirteen years old.
Hint: substitute cigarettes for soft-drinks in the above. Is the public health threat any less dire?