The Washington Post reported yesterday that Coca-Cola, the number 1 beverage company in the world, is launching a series of television advertisements focusing on overweight and obesity. The two minute-ads will begin running on Monday on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, all during their highest rated programs.
The narrator of one of the ads says that, "obesity concerns all of us", but that people can make a difference when they "come together". Another ad, scheduled to run during this week's "American Idol", as well as before the Super Bowl, features people involved in a variety of activities to burn off the "140 happy calories" found in a can of Coca-Cola.
The consumption of sugary drinks became national news when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated a cap on the size of soft drinks permitted in restaurants, movie theaters and sports venues. New York's program will be implemented later this year. The Mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Henrietta Davis, has followed suit by introducing a similar plan, inspired by the one in New York. Recent research studies have linked obesity to the consumption of these drinks, elevating some individual's propensity for becoming obese.
Stuart Kronauge, general manager of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America said that the ads aren't in response to a negative public sentiment, but to raise awareness about Coca-Cola's lower calorie drinks. "There's an important conversation going on about obesity out there, and we want to be part of the conversation." Michael Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, takes a dim view of the up-coming campaign. " It looks like a page out of damage control 101. They're trying to disarm the public."
Coca-Cola declined comment about the amount of money it is spending for the ad campaign, nor would it disclose further details for the upcoming year. They pointed out that they already lists the calorie counts on all of it's cans, bottles and vending machines, and adding the amount of activity it takes to burn off one of their drink's calories as a part of that listing is being considered as an option.
Overweight and obesity can cause heart disease, diabetes and a myriad of chronic and serious health conditions. Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, due in part to poor diet and sedentary lifestyles. Sugary drinks are one part of this growing health problem. Over the past 15 years, Coca-Cola's growth in North America has been in low calorie/no calorie drinks. According to Beverage Digest, an industry tracking firm, the consumption of soft drinks has steadily declined since 1998, with diet sodas, bottled water and sports drinks taking their place.