A new Coca-Cola ad targets the obesity epidemic in an unprecedented way.
Last week, the beverage company released an advertisement addressing its role in obesity. The ad, called “Coming Together,” met mixed reviews. “Coming Together” boasts the availability of low calorie and no calorie Coca-Cola products, as well as solutions such as all natural zero calorie sweetener. The ad also stresses that all calories count, “no matter where they come from, including Coca-Cola and everything else with calories,” says a voiceover in the video.
“And if you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, you’ll gain weight,” the voiceover goes on to say.
The ad represents a larger campaign within the company. The video directs viewers to a website displaying Coca-Cola’s low calorie drinks and initiatives to fight obesity. The company also showed an ad during American Idol called “Be Ok,” demonstrating different ways to burn 140 calories.
Is this a socially responsible move on Coca-Cola’s part? Some say no.
Many believe the ad is misleading in its message that all calories count, including Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
“The Coca-Cola Company still remains one of the major causes of obesity in the USA and globally,” said Popkin in a USA Today interview. “Yes, other foods matter, but the biggest single source contributor to child and adult obesity in the USA is sugar-sweetened beverages.”
A business’ CSR effort generally focuses on some area where they’ve faced criticism, and from this perspective, Coca-Cola is right to focus on obesity. This isn’t the company’s first CSR effort in the realm of public health – Coke has worked with the Boys & Girls Club on Triple Play, a youth health initiative, since 2005.
But the backlash from public health professionals may demonstrate that Coca-Cola wasn’t ready to enter the conversation. If your company’s CSR causes controversy, it might be better for the business not to address the issue so directly.
Despite the criticism, it seems consumers are standing behind the brand. Coca-Cola created a page for people to vote on whether the ads “hit the mark or miss the mark.” As of today, three quarters of voters say the ads hit the mark, with 400 total votes.