Communicating the Benefits of a Controversial Policy


In an effort to improve the health of Seattle residents, the City of Seattle passed a Sweetened Beverage Tax to reduce the sales and consumption of sugary drinks. Research has shown that sugary drinks can lead to long-term weight gain, which can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. The tax charges sugary drink retailers and distributers directly; however, most of them pass the cost on to consumers. The tax revenue is used to support and expand programs that increase access to healthy food and support child health, development and readiness for school. The Milepost team was hired to support the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) in communicating the policy to residents to show that the outcomes generated by the tax revenue are enhancing lives and promoting long-term health and success of Seattle's residents.



The City of Seattle OSE had a clear strategy and messaging structure for this campaign in place. Milepost supported the effort by helping them develop a look and feel for their materials that would stand out and be fun to read. We developed a communication style and aesthetic that would help people see and feel the benefits of the tax revenue through stylized visualizations of the narrative. We created a suite of materials appropriate for different target audiences to ensure we were providing the right information in bite size chunks.



Our final deliverables include a Fact Sheet that helps residents understand what beverages are taxed (and why) and how the revenue is being used; a Progress Brief infographic that shows the outcomes generated in a single year from the tax revenue (wow, a lot of great things!); and an Annual Report for the initiative stakeholders that want a deeper dive into the programs that are funded. Our graphic visualizations use a mix of real-life photos and illustrations to create multi-dimensional imagery that connects readers emotionally to the content. The materials are straightforward and convey the progress that is possible by taxing 1.75 cents per ounce on sugary drinks.



  • Branding & Graphic Design


City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment


Two months (2019)


Project Lead:

Rebecca Nelson Ask Me Questions