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Coca-Cola's New Ad Campaign Claims the Company Is Fighting Obesity? Oh, Please

The ad is an astonishing act of chutzpah, explainable only as an act of desperation to do something about the company’s declining sales in the U.S.
 
 
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Coca-Cola said Wednesday it would pay $980 million for a stake in Saudi soft drinks producer Aujan Industries, expanding its footprint the fast-growing Gulf non-alcoholic beverage sector.

 
 
 
 

In case you missed  all the publicity about Coca-Cola’s new ad campaign positioning the company as a force for public health, take a look at its new  two-minute TV ad.

The video—how much do these things cost?—argues that the company is producing lower-calorie products in smaller sizes and promoting community activity, that all calories count, and that it’s up to you to fit Coke into your healthy active lifestyle.

The ad is an astonishing act of chutzpah, explainable only as an act of desperation to do something about the company’s  declining sales in the U.S.

If Coke  really wanted to help prevent obesity, it would  STOP:

  • Targeting its “drink more Coke” marketing to kids.
  • Targeting marketing to low-income minorities.
  • Lobbying and spending a fortune to defeat soda taxes and caps on soda sizes.
  • Fighting attempts to remove vending machines from schools.
  • Pricing drinks so the largest sizes are the best value.
  • “Bribing” health professions organizations to shut up about research linking sugar-sweetened beverages to poor diets and weight gain.
  • Pushing Coke sales in developing countries where rates of obesity and related conditions are skyrocketing.

Instead, it’s doing all these things, but not talking about them in videos.

The company is supposed to be releasing a second video tonight, reportedly explaining how to work off the calories in a soda by dog-walking, dancing, or laughing. If only.

I can’t wait.

Marion Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of Food Politics; Safe Food; What to Eat; and Pet Food Politics. Her website is www.foodpolitics.com.
 
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