Sunny D: Does the D stand for depression?

I think most of us are familiar with Sunny D, the fake orange juice drink marketed to kids that has 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C but a boatload of sugar to match. Sugar and vitamins, what’s not to love? However, earlier this month the company’s account tweeted, “I can’t do this anymore.” Why aren’t you sunny, Sunny D?

The tweet went viral. Over the course of two weeks, the tweet garnered 152,349 retweets and 346,420 likes. It’s not hard to realize why, as the tweet expresses how many of us feel due to the stresses and burdens of life. Various other corporate accounts have replied to the tweet. Pop-Tarts replied, “Hey Sunny, can I please offer you a hug? We are gonna get through this together my friend” and Corn Nuts who tweeted, “Buddy, come hangout.” Even Insomnia Cookies asked, “Do you need a cookie to cheer up?”

While one could argue that these corporations showing goodwill and support to each other is somewhat heartwarming, it is important to realize that these tweets are handcrafted by the PR and social media teams of these companies. These companies don’t really have feelings. It is a sad reflection of our society when corporations can tweet out what would otherwise be seen as a cry for help and get hundreds of thousands of retweets; as such content is truly relatable and many users can connect to that feeling of hopelessness. The fact of the matter is that Sunny D used social media to tap into and relate to the struggle with mental illness in order to run a successful advertising campaign. Since the tweet, the account has gained around 22,000 more followers. This is an incredible success for Sunny D, as before the tweet they only had 14,000 followers; the company essentially doubled the number of people who will now see Sunny D tweets (essentially advertisements reminding them the company exists) with a single tweet.

While some could claim that such marketing stunts increase awareness of mental illness, I would say it actually further marginalizes those impacted. Again, corporations can’t really experience emotions, and I highly doubt the social media manager of Sunny D is going to sincerely express their genuine feelings over the company’s Twitter account. Such stunts diminish the importance and concern we as a society should have when someone expresses that they are in a moment of crisis.

Compare Sunny D’s tweet to Pete Davidson’s Instagram post late last year. Pete wrote that he “doesn’t want to be on this earth anymore” and “I’m doing my best to stay here for you but i actually don’t know how much longer i can last. all i’ve ever tried to do was help people. just remember i told you so.” His post received a large amount of attention as well, but I think it was notable in that he wasn’t attempting to double his followers or go viral, he was in a genuine moment of crisis and wished to express that to his fans. He deleted his Instagram shortly after. Other celebrities, many who are close friends with Davidson, reached out to keep their fans informed as well. Again, these tweets weren’t to gain goodwill and relatability, but to keep Davidson’s fans informed on his status and to let Davidson know that others cared.

As such, companies should attempt to connect to their followers on social media in ways that don’t delegitimize mental crises which many suffer through every day. Suicide is the second most common cause of death in the US for those between the ages of 10-24, it remains one of the most serious health crisis of our generation. In terms of increasing awareness, there are much better ways to address mental health than fabricating a crisis through a corporate Twitter account in order to gain more followers. Companies have plenty of other avenues to advertise and increase their social media presence, and making light of mental health to relate to users is likely one of the most soulless and dystopian ways to do so.


Cameron Cantelmo is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at cameron.cantelmo@uconn.edu.