The company, which owns the Walkers Crisps, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana brands, has been at the forefront of the obesity debate given the salt and sugar levels of its products.
Edelman will aid PepsiCo’s effort to lobby against proposals to introduce an outright or partial ban on junk-food advertising and a traffic-light food-labelling system that would alert consumers to fat content.
The company has launched a fitness campaign for the Walkers brand called ‘Get Britain Walking’, part of which involves giving away two million pedometers.
Last week it began an advertising push to back the initiative, featuring familiar brand icon Gary Lineker but not a single crisp.
PepsiCo vice-president of government affairs Europe Stephen Kehoe said Edelman would assist the company in its quest to ‘increase the number of product options’, provide ‘consumer-friendly information and education’ and ‘encourage people to lead more active lifestyles’.
He added: ‘It is important the Government understands the extent to which companies like PepsiCo are attempting to address the challenges posed by obesity and diet-related diseases.’
The account is being led by Edelman director Alex Bigg, who said it would also work on packaging and waste issues and communicate PepsiCo’s contribution to the economy to local MPs.
Edelman previously advised PepsiCo chief executive Martin Glenn for his
appearance in front of the Health Select Committee.
The hire comes soon after PepsiCo awarded its entire consumer and corporate PR account to Freud Communications (PRWeek, 1 October).
Kehoe joined PepsiCo earlier this year from APCO UK, where he was managing director.
Edelman’s UK public affairs team already represents Burger King and the Snacks, Nuts and Crisp Manufacturers Association (Snacma) on obesity-related issues.