Since the summer, when Mayor Bloomberg limited surgery drinks sold in restaurants, at movies, and by street vendors in NYC to 16 ounces, Coca-Cola has been on the defense. Now, the company is positioning Coca-Cola products as part of an obesity solution.
In a press release titled, "The Coca-Cola Company Reinforces Its Commitment to Help America in the Fight Against Obesity," the company describes a new television commercial that aired on national cable news:
"A two-minute video, titled "Coming Together," debuts tonight on national cable news. The video encourages everyone to be mindful that all calories count in managing your weight, including those in Coca-Cola products and in all foods and beverages. Its purpose is to highlight some of the specifics behind the Company's ongoing commitment to deliver more beverage choices, including low- and no-calorie options, and to clearly communicate the calorie content of all its products."
In addition to the company's commitment to healthier products, the press release highlights programs and policies to encourage fitness and education about calories.
Another commercial, "Be OK," will air on American Idol. According to the press release, this ad "makes it perfectly clear right up front that a can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories. This spot also encourages people to have some fun burning those calories off."
When ABC News asked the company to comment, Coca-Cola referred the reporter to Russell Pate, a professor with Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, who blamed the obesity problem on lack of exercise:
"I think we have millions of Americans trying to eat down to their level of inactivity, and it's not working well. I believe strongly we will have to increase the physical activity level of our population if we want to overcome the obesity epidemic that we are currently challenged by."
- What's your view of Coca-Cola's new positioning? Do you buy the argument that the company is part of an obesity solution? Why or why not?
- Compare the two commercials. (Find "Be OK" on YouTube.) How do they differ? Why would one air on cable news and the other on network television? What messages is each conveying to what audiences?
- Review Professor Pate's CV. In what ways is he or isn't he a credible source for the ABC News story?