* Spots to run during cable news shows, American Idol
* Industry critic calls move "damage control"
* Coke: Only collaborative action can solve obesity problem
Jan 14 Coca-Cola Co will air a two-minute
commercial on U.S. cable television on Monday that highlights
its efforts in fighting obesity, as the soft drink industry
faces increasing pressure from local governments and critics.
The commercial mentions how Coca-Cola sells about 180 low-
and no-calorie drinks, works to produce better-tasting
low-calorie sweeteners and has introduced smaller can sizes.
It also reminds viewers that "all calories count no matter
where they come from" and that "if you eat and drink more
calories than you burn off, you'll gain weight."
This is not the first time Coca-Cola has used advertising to
address this issue, but it is a first for television. The move
comes as New York City prepares for an upcoming ban on the sale
of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces (0.5 liter) in places
like restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums. In November,
voters in two California cities rejected ballot measures for
The commercial will air on Monday on CNN's "The Situation
Room with Wolf Blitzer," FOX News' "The O'Reilly Factor," and
MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show." It will air on Tuesday during
other shows as well.
"The audience for this new ad ... is knowledgeable about the
problem but doesn't necessarily know about what the Coca-Cola Co
is doing to address it," said Coke spokeswoman Diana Garza
Ciarlante. "We are telling them our story."
Another commercial, which talks about Coke's
front-of-package calorie labels, will debut on Wednesday during
the popular "American Idol" television show on Fox, which has
partnered with Coke, the world's largest soft drink maker, for
Ciarlante said the commercials were not in response to any
increased pressure but Michael Jacobson, executive director of
the Center for Science in the Public Interest and an outspoken
critic of the industry, said the move seems like "a full-blown
exercise in damage control."
"They're trying to pretend they're part of the solution
instead of part of the problem," Jacobson said. If Coke was
serious about wanting to be part of the solution, Jacobson said,
it could stop advertising full-calorie drinks altogether, set up
a pricing scheme where full-calorie drinks were more expensive,
or stop opposing proposed soda taxes.
In response Coca-Cola's Stuart Kronauge, general manager of
sparkling beverages for North America, said the obesity problem
can only be solved with "honest and collective action."
"This includes action by business, government, teachers,
scientists, health professionals, parents, and of course
companies like the Coca-Cola Co," Kronauge said in a statement.
"We have an important role in this fight which can only be won
if everyone works together."
Coca-Cola, which is also a big sponsor of the Olympics and
other sporting events, spent about $610 million on advertising
in 2011, according to Brad Adgate at Horizon Media Inc, citing
figures from Advertising Age.
American Idol is one of the costliest TV shows for
advertisers, according to the latest annual survey by
Advertising Age. The survey, released in October, found that the
average cost of a 30-second spot on Wednesday's edition of the
show was $340,825.