Published On: Wed, Jan 16th, 2013

Coca Cola Tackles Obesity In Latest CSR Campaign

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The Coca-Cola Company, the largest beverage company in the world, aired a two-minute spot on U.S. cable news networks on Monday. In a surprising move for the soft drink giant, the subject of the ad was America’s obesity debate.

The commercial aired during prime-time on the highest-rated shows on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC “in hopes of flexing its marketing muscle in the debate over sodas and their impact on public health,” the Associated Press reported. The ad’s ‘Coming Together’ theme ties into the company’s ‘Live Positively’ and ‘Open Happiness’ campaigns.

The ad weighs in on the public health debate that blames the rising obesity rates on the empty calories found in sugary, sweetened soft drinks and juices, and touts the company’s commitment to reducing obesity by offering diet alternatives and smaller portion sizes. After highlighting the firm’s record of making low-calorie drinks, the ad reminds viewers, ”…all calories count. No matter where they come from, including Coca-Cola.”

The ad promotes a website address at the end for more information (coca-cola.com/cometogether).

According to AP:
“Another ad, which will run later this week during American Idol and before the Super Bowl, is much more reminiscent of the catchy, upbeat advertising people have come to expect from Coca-Cola. It features a montage of activities that add up to burning off the ’140 happy calories’ in a can of Coke: walking a dog, dancing, sharing a laugh with friends and doing a victory dance after bowling a strike. The 30-second ad, a version of which ran in Brazil last month, is intended to address confusion about the number of calories in soda, said Diana Garza Ciarlante, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Co. She said the company’s consumer research showed people mistakenly thought there were as many as 900 calories in a can of soda.”

Why the Sudden Defense?

The beverage industry is facing a storm of criticism for what authorities believe is their role in the worldwide obesity epidemic.

In March, New York City is preparing to ban sugary drinks over 16 ounces in restaurants, cinemas and stadiums, in an initiative spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

France also imposed a fat tax on sugary, sweetened drinks last year.

The American beverage industry is combating these efforts with an ad campaign and website (NYCBeverageChoices.com) that urge consumers, ”Don’t let bureaucrats tell you what beverage to buy.”

Coca-Cola has stated that the video was not made in response to criticism of the soft drink industry, but is solely an effort to raise awareness against obesity.

Our Opinion

I’m confused: On one hand, Coke is promoting its smaller cans and diet options. On the other, it’s fighting for the right to sell fizzy drinks in giant, upsized packaging.

I’m also in two minds about my ethical standpoint on this issue. It can be seen as a matter of personal preference. Yes, the Coca-Cola company is offering consumers healthier options, but at the same time why should anyone stop consumers from purchasing giant sized, calorie-laden drinks? Shouldn’t it be the consumer’s decision how unhealthy they wish to be?

But obesity is a real problem with real-world consequences. And sugary drinks are part of the problem. Its incongruous for Coke to present itself as part of the solution while fighting for its right to be part of the problem!

Are you with or against Coke on this one?

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