Show Me, Don’t Just Tell Me

Remember “show and tell” time in elementary school? My best share was kindergarten when I brought our border collie Bootsy (quick aside: no clue how he got that name and pretty sure my parents were not fans of Parliament-Funkadelic). My friends heard about how smart my dog was, but they couldn’t fully appreciate this until he moved through sit, stay, down and rollover commands—all without lunging for anyone’s animal crackers. I told but he showed. Way more effective.

Something akin to this happened on our recent Balance Calories Initiative (BCI) market tour. We invited a cross-section of Columbus thought leaders to join our members at an actual grocery store. Leaders in local government, public health and the faith community heard about the BCI goal—a voluntary effort to cut calories from beverages 20 percent per capita by 2025.

Eloquent speakers from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Beverage Association detailed how fierce competitors from Coke, Dr Pepper and Pepsi are working together to help people balance what they eat, drink and do. Our guests heard about strategic tactics like offering lower or no calorie beverages, smaller portion sizes and clear calorie information on every bottle, can and pack our members produce.

But it wasn’t until small groups walked the beverage aisles at Grandview’s Giant Eagle that they began to grasp what those choices look like in living color. Our member tour captains explained how beverage innovation happens from concept to store shelf. Our guests, surprised at the proliferation of sparking waters, functional drinks, mini cans of old favorites and hundreds of new options, asked again and again, “Pepsi makes this? Wow, I didn’t know Coke had this. Keurig is now part of the Dr Pepper family?”

They also saw a list of partners from “test and learn” markets scattered around the country, glimpsing some of the work underway in community centers, food banks and other nonprofit settings to convey realistic messages around beverage choice and consumption.

But hearing the voices behind the logos has real impact. Eric Hubbard of the Jovenes project in L.A. describes how their program helps homeless teens learn sound decision- making skills, including choices around healthy meals and smart beverage selection. Listening to BCI partners from Brooklyn or Little Rock might spark program ideas in Ohio communities.

Cross sector partnerships can create a vibrant network of trusted advisors already working on wellness issues. The best collaborations begin with honest conversation and a willingness to walk side by side down beverage aisles of hometown grocers.

These walks spotlight real change around our commitment to helping consumers find balance in their beverage choices. My sweet dog might be long gone, but the lesson of show, don’t just tell is something that never left me.

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