Coke launches anti-obesity campaign in Australia, but ‘be healthy’ Coke ad banned in UK

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 24th July 2013

Beverage giant Coca-Cola South Pacific yesterday announced it would take action in Australia to “help be part of the solution to obesity”. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a Coca-Cola television ad that is part of a health campaign, saying it could mislead viewers about how easy it is to burn off the calories in the beverage.

Australian ‘health’ campaign

Coca-Cola South Pacific said it will “take action” in the four following areas:

  • Increasing the availability of smaller portion sizes
  • Offering a wider selection of low-kilojoule beverage options and raising awareness of low-kilojoule alternatives
  • Providing transparent nutritional information in more places, including vending machines
  • “Helping inspire Australians to get moving”, by partnering with the Bicycle Network, a not-for-profit organisation, in supplying bicycles to local communities

The Company aired a television announcement on 23 July 2013 outlining its commitments for the first time on major networks across Australia. The announcement addressed the issue of obesity and the actions the Company will take. It also highlighted that “all kilojoules count in managing weight”, including those in Coca-Cola. The announcement will be supported by advertising in print and online media.

“Overcoming obesity will take action from all stakeholders working together, including Coca-Cola,” said Phil Roberts, Commercial and Franchise Director of Coca-Cola South Pacific.

“We know moderation is a key component of an active, healthy and balanced lifestyle – and that we all need to make sensible choices to meet our individual nutrition and kilojoule needs,” Mr Roberts said.

Coca-Cola South Pacific said it believed it had an “important role” in providing more beverage choices, including more choice in serve sizes and low-kilojoule options, clearly communicating the kilojoule content of its products and supporting community-based physical activity programs.

“We believe these initiatives, as well as our existing policies and involvement in the ‘Healthier Australia Commitment’, demonstrate how serious we are about being part of the solution to obesity,” Mr Roberts said.

Coca-Cola South Pacific is not the first food or beverage manufacturer in Australia to address the issue of obesity. Australian Food News reported in April 2011 that breakfast cereal giant Sanitarium had debuted its ‘Healthy Eating System’, which it said went beyond basic traffic light labels, and highlighted the positive and negative nutrients of its food products and recommended frequency of consumption.

UK bans ‘how to burn off calories in a Coke’ television ad

Meanwhile, authorities in the UK have banned a television advertisement because they say it could ‘mislead’ viewers about what activities would burn off the calories in a Coke.

The 30 second advertisement shows a variety of activities like dog walking, dancing and laughing that it says would burn off the 139 calories in single serving of Coke. The ASA examined complaints from some viewers who said it was not clear that all the activities depicted were required to use up the energy from the beverage.

The ASA said it understood that the advertisement’s message “had intended to convey that the combined activities would burn 139 calories, because we did not consider that that was sufficiently clear to some viewers, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead.”

Complaints against a longer 120 second advertisement, in which a voiceover describes Coca-Cola’s past and ongoing commitments to particular health-oriented causes, could be interpreted to be making a general health claim or nutrition claim were not upheld by the ASA.

The Coca-Cola Company’s global move to engage in a conversation around leading a healthier lifestyle come as the Company faces ongoing legal action in the US over the branding and marketing of its Vitaminwater product.

State health departments in moves on  sugary drinks consumption

The Coca-Cola campaign in Australia comes at a time when State health departments have been issuing media releases as well as directives for reducing sugary drink consumption in the community.

Two recent instances include new vending machine guidelines in various States, as well as a recent Western Australian Government  television commercial urging Western Australians to decrease their consumption of sugary drinks. The WA television commercial is part of the West Australian Department of Health’s ‘LiveLighter’ campaign, which also features radio, cinema, online and print advertisements.

The Coca-Cola company wanted to "help fight obesity"