San Francisco Department of Public Health

SF Soda Tax

Community-Based Marketing and Branding


In 2016, San Francisco voters approved the Sugary Drinks Distributor Tax, also known as the SF Soda Tax, a one cent per fluid ounce tax on the initial distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages, syrups, and powders within San Francisco. Civic Edge, with graphic design partner lowercase productions (lcp), was hired by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) to develop an educational effort letting San Francisco residents know about - and participate in - the benefits created by the tax.   


Civic Edge worked closely with DPH staff, the Sugary Drinks Distributor Tax Advisory Committee, healthy retail merchants, San Francisco Unified School District student nutrition services, and community-based organizations to create a community-focused brand and logo representative of the different public programs supported by the tax. Materials included custom photography at locations throughout San Francisco, including schools, farmers markets, local businesses, and recreation centers. 

The candy colors used for the unique logo were chosen as a direct response to the advertisements so frequently aimed at children and applied across collateral to demonstrate the range of projects and programs supported by the tax. A social media campaign, backed with a stipend for participants, brought information about the soda tax directly to the channels where followers could easily learn more.  

Adaptable Support 

With the onset of COVID-19 and stay-at-home efforts, our team pivoted focus to sharing information about emergency support for San Francisco residents. Collateral, including posters and bus advertisements, directed residents to where they could find videos of community leaders sharing why the SF Soda Tax is so important. Finally, we wrote a grant application, promoted it to CBOs across San Francisco, and engaged a dozen organizations in sharing information about the SF Soda Tax

By the Numbers

  • 1 new website
  • 10 community grants
  • 100s of social media promotions 
  • 5 photo shoots
  • 4 celebrity videos
  • 4 healthy living videos

Project Expertise

  • Messaging campaign
  • Branding
  • Collateral and materials development
  • Focus groups
  • Social media strategy
  • Community partnerships