Coca-Cola taking on obesity
Coca-Cola Co., the world's top beverage company and perennial target for critics of sugary drinks, is taking an unusually public stance on obesity by defending its health initiatives on prime-time television.
In a two-minute advertisement debuted Monday night on cable news channels, the Atlanta company tackles what it calls the "complex challenge of obesity."
In a spot called "Coming Together" - a name reminiscent of Starbucks' recent effort to get fiscal cliff negotiations moving - Coca-Cola will showcase its efforts to be forthcoming about the nutritional content of its products while also expanding its lineup of better-for-you beverages with low or no calories.
The ad will also urge viewers "to be mindful that all calories count" in managing weight - as in, not just the ones consumed from soda.
Then on Wednesday, Coca-Cola will launch another commercial during American Idol. In the ad, dubbed "Be OK," the company plans to shout from the rooftops that a single can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories and that burning them off can be fun.
"The Coca-Cola Co. has an important role in this fight," Stuart Kronauge, general manager of Coca-Cola North America's sparkling beverages division, said in a statement.
The battle has long been raging, with even more controversy in recent months.
New York City is poised to implement a ban on large sugary drinks approved by its health board last year. The move prompted opponents to brand Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a "nanny" while also inspiring other cities, such as Washington, to consider similar measures. A sugary-drink tax for Philadelphia was proposed and beaten twice, in 2010 and 2011.
Last month, pop singer Beyoncé faced blowback from her $50 million endorsement deal with soda maker PepsiCo Inc., which helped land her a plum performance during the Super Bowl halftime show while setting her up to have her face on some Pepsi cans.
Health advocates urged the superstar to back out of the partnership or donate the proceeds to hospitals, diabetes groups or other health organizations.
In October, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other soda makers agreed to start listing calorie counts for their beverages on vending machines, initially in selected cities such as Chicago and San Antonio.