Danny Rogers on PR: Coke weighs in on the US obesity drive


Coca-Cola is trying to stop Americans getting fat. Spot the irony in that sentence. But some truth lies therein. Last week Coke launched its first “anti-obesity” advertising campaign, with a two-minute TV commercial on mainstream news channels, followed by another ad during American Idol.

The campaign, by Bright House and Citizen2, treads a difficult line for the notorious purveyor of sugary drinks. On the one hand Coke is warning customers that they need to burn off the hundreds of calories present in its standard beverages, on the other it is keen to show that this can be done by leading a fun, active lifestyle.

So the commercial highlights the problem of obesity in America and talks of the increasing number of "diet" and "smaller serving" alternatives that Coca-Cola now sells.

Sceptics, of which there are many, argue that Coke is undertaking a cynical damage limitation exercise. They speculate that with new legislation in the US limiting the serving sizes for soft drinks and forcing brands to display calorie numbers, Coca-Cola is simply reacting.

But governments have failed to change damaging behaviours and thus the battle against obesity requires the manufacturers to join the debate responsibly.

Stuart Kronauge, general manager of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America, says: "There's an important conversation going on about obesity out there, and we want to be a part of the conversation." This in itself is a good thing. The ads use the phrase: "If you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, you'll gain weight." A truism that is patently ignored in much of the world – including in Britain.

Companies such as Coca-Cola are gradually accepting that they are part of the problem, and therefore must be part of the solution.

Ideally, governments or community groups would be persuading us to change our behaviour for the better but it is encouraging that big brands are accepting their ethical responsibilities. Instead of a brilliant defensive strategy one just hopes this is "The Real Thing"™.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral