Coca-Cola’s new TV ads are about tackling obesity and encouraging us to do more physical activity. How do you feel about taking health advice from a company that sells soft drinks?
Coca-Cola has aired two new television adverts tonight. You may have seen them if you were watching ITV or Channel 4. Instead of the normal marketing angle directly promoting a line of soft drinks, these adverts have a more unusual theme.
One of the adverts is about obesity. Coca-Cola says it wants to work together with their customers to help tackle the problem. A similar ad was shown in the US recently, and received a lot of criticism. So, is this just clever marketing or a genuine attempt to be responsible?
Part of the problem?
As a manufacturer of soft drinks, many of which are high in calories, Coca-Cola is often presented as part of the obesity problem, rather than the solution.
The new ads put the focus on the range of different products besides regular Coke, such as diet drinks and Coke Zero. The ads also talk about the importance of physical activity. Coca-Cola stresses that while many of its products contain calories, soft drinks are not the only source of calories in our diets.
Does Coca-Cola have a taste for change?
We recently looked at the actions Coca-Cola is taking to make it easier to eat healthily in our report ‘A Taste for Change?‘. We looked at the company alongside nine other food manufacturers and 10 retailers.
Coca-Cola has made some changes to its products to try and make them healthier, such as recently reducing the sugar content of some drinks. However, it has no intention of changing the vastly popular regular Coke.
We highlighted the need for Coca-Cola to be responsible in its promotions to children. So far, it has tightened up its policy on marketing to younger children, but not to teenagers.
We also criticised the way that the company links its brand to physical activity, for example, through sponsorship of the Olympic Games. Coca-Cola argue this is being socially responsible, but our research shows many people see it as another form of marketing. We also called on the company to do more to reduce sugar levels in its products.
I think it will take a wider shift in the balance of Coca-Cola advertising and promotions to convince me that it is serious about healthier eating. Are you convinced by the new adverts?