Coca-Cola Aims to Take on Obesity with new Campaign

In a land of increasing belly sizes comes a surprising twist of fate. As America slurps on calorie-loaded sodas and shoves pounds of beef into their mouths, a company cashing in off of mankind’s greatest weaknesses has to decided to come clean and admit that they are the cause (and solution) to the problem.

Global beverage company Coca-Cola released a new marketing campaign letting know America they are the way everyone can fight the obesity epidemic. Of course, the ads admit the solution is to buy more of their products- just (disclaimer here, in teenie, tiny, itty bitty print) the healthier ones.

The ad campaign centers around a television spot filled with healthy, smiling children letting Americans know all the great things Coca-Cola is doing to help fight the country’s weight problem. This includes:

  • Offering 180 low calorie drinks over a portfolio of 650
  • Decreasing the average calories per serving by 22%
  • Producing smaller sizes of their drinks (to hit the market shortly)
  • Displaying the calories predominately on their product packaging

Of course, these are the main things they’ve done. The ads essentially say “keep buying us, because even though our products have unnecessary calories and sugar they’re still 22% less calories than they used to be.” Coca-Cola goes on to describe other national efforts they’ve made, such as:

  • Changing their offerings in schools to waters, juices, and low calorie options. (They skip over the issue that many of these changes were brought on because of parent complaints, leading schools to break contracts with Coca-Cola unless their offerings changed.)
  • Supporting groups like the Boys and Girls Club, which promote fitness and activities.
  • Working with scientists on zero calorie natural sweeteners.

The ad ends with a reminder that all calories count, including Coca-Cola.

The reaction to this new marketing campaign has been mixed, though largely cynical and comical. Some believe Coca-Cola is taking a “vague” easy way out, while others commend the brand for finally (sort of) admitting its products add to calorie intakes and is a contributor to America’s obesity problem.

From a marketing perspective, the ads do come across as brave. For a company to (sort of) admit they are the  cause of a huge, fat problem is big. On the other hand, Coca-Cola still has products to sell. They’re not going to tell consumers to stop consuming their sodas. They’re in the business to make money, and the business hopes to move consumers wary of full calorie sodas to instead purchase diet options of that same soda or other Coca-Cola products, such as juices and water. The ad also places some blame on lack of exercise and physical education for children. Of course, Coca-Cola keeps the tone happy and carefree. Obesity surely doesn’t seem like a problem in our world through the eyes of this ad. No, instead the world is fit AND drinking Coca-Cola products.

Smart marketing tactic? Yes. Will Americans stop drinking their Coke products? No. Will “healthier” Americans think twice before drinking full calorie ones? Possibly. The end result is that these people who are “reachable” will explore other products Coke has to offer, such as Dasani, Vitamin Water, and Simply Orange. However, the “unreachable” audience (those who are actually obese) probably won’t be influenced as much. Coca-Cola has become so engraved into America that it’s like a piece of apple pie and a ball game.

As Americans continue to slurp their Cokes, Coca-Cola will continue its effort to re-brand itself as a provider of healthier beverage options, while still maintaining its brand recognition as the traditional soda that truly is American.

Watch the ad here:

-Bryan Nagy