It’s no secret that HR ladies are addicted to Diet Coke.

My friend, Jennifer McClure, is no exception. She is one of those women with an emotional, passionate attachment to Diet Coke. We went to the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, two weeks ago, and this is the only shot of our gorgeous hotel room.

But she’s not addicted.

“I can quit anytime,” she recently told me. “I enjoy the experience. I understand the choices I make. I have free will.”

Hm. I think the discussion of free will is so interesting.

According to Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Coca-Cola spends billions of dollars to sponsor everything from the Olympics to American Idol so that consumers begin to correlate important, meaningful events with the consumption of products like Diet Coke.

There’s nothing wrong with advertising and marketing, but Coca-Cola also leverages the best technology and chemistry to create a product that never leaves us feeling too full. Artificial sweeteners and other chemicals are manipulated to override our nervous system. Brain scanners and analytic dashboards help neuroscientists understand the intersection of preference, purchasing and satiety. And marketing professionals leverage big data to sell products that evade the bliss point — a quantity of consumption where any further increase would make the consumer less satisfied — and make us feel good about ourselves as human beings for no apparent reason other than drinking Diet Coke.

In my mind, Diet Coke doesn’t feel like a choice. It feels like an insubstantial beverage that delivers chemicals — and deceptive emotions — to our brains.

When a company uses the powerful combination of chemistry and psychology to make a sale, do we have free will? Is Diet Coke a choice, habit, or addiction?

What do you think?

Comments are closed.