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New Coke Ads Downplay Soda's Link to Obesity

New Coke Ads Downplay Soda's Link to Obesity The "arctic" white Coke can next to the Diet Coke can / Credit: Photo Credit: UK Daily Mail

As the national discussion on obesity continues, food and beverage corporations in the United States are coming up with new ways to deflect blame from seemingly unhealthy products. Most recently, Coca-Cola has tossed its hat into the ring with a new set of commercials due to start airing today on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

ABC News reports that the ads, one of which lays out Coca-Cola’s efforts to provide consumers with lower-calorie drinks over the past several years, are an attempt to counteract the negative press directed at soda in the past few months.

The largest thorn in Coca-Cola’s side is most likely New York City's Sept. 2012 ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks. With other cities already proposing similar measures, some suspect that the company has had to rethink its marketing plan so as not to ignore the elephant in the room.

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But while the new Coca-Cola ads emphasize the company’s low-calorie products, the commercials also remind viewers that weight gain results from consuming too many calories of any kind, not just those from soda. And though these ads may seem like a fairly straightforward response to the recent change in public opinion about soda, the company insists that this is not the case.

“There’s an important conversation going on about obesity out there, and we want to be a part of the conversation,” said Stuart Kronauge, general manager of Coca-Cola North America’s sparkling beverages division.

In an effort to remain “a part of the conversation,” Coca-Cola will also release an ad later in the week during “American Idol” that more closely resembles the upbeat Coke commercials the country is accustomed to seeing. The ads feature people engaged in activities like walking a dog, dancing, laughing and bowling. The ad says that the summation of these activities burns 130 calories, the amount in one can of Coke.

It remains to be seen whether this revised marketing approach adds up to anything meaningful or if it is simply the soda industry’s retort to America’s war on obesity. But the fact that Coca-Cola has deemed a new strategy necessary suggests that the company is at least taking this public health issue seriously.

Coca-Cola has also taken other steps in recent years to make the calories of its products more visible, including putting calorie counts on its bottles and cans and posting calorie information on its vending machines.

Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth writes about innovative technologies and business trends. She has traveled throughout the Americas in her roles as student, English teacher, Spanish language interpreter and freelance writer. She graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University.