5 Comments on Coca Cola’s New Obesity Commercial

Coke Obesity Commerical

For the first time in its history, the Coca Cola company is discussing its role in the obesity epidemic directly with consumers. This, in a 120 second long TV commercial “Come Together” which began airing last night. You can see the video is below. In the ad, Coke shows viewers how it is part of the solution to the obesity epidemic, not one of the root causes.


Here are some initial thoughts we’ve put together, after viewing this commercial several times:

1. This is probably the first time a full 2 minutes of prime time TV have been utilized to discuss obesity with the public. We think this is an important discussion to have. In prime time.

But did it really have to be Coca Cola sponsoring the discussion? You know the answer. What public health advocacy group has a budget that would allow it such a huge media spend? Or government body?

2. Coca Cola is presenting itself as part of the solution by indicating that in the past 15 years it has reduced the average calories per serving across its US product line by about 22%. Let’s analyze this stat. Coke isn’t saying that the average calories consumed from its products have dropped by 22%. (That would be awesome.)

Unfortunately, calories from sugary drinks are the number 1 source of calories in the American diet today. The stat simply means Coke has added lots of artificially sweetened products (an can of worms in itself, for another blog post) and waters to its portfolio, which, when averaged with the regular products makes it seem like a huge reduction.

But the low calorie products account for a small percentage of sales compared to the fully loaded sugary drinks. In fact, the video equivalent of subtext throughout the ad shows mostly beautiful people drinking mostly the iconic Coke full sugar drink. Not the low calorie portfolio.

3. Coke claims it voluntarily removed sugary drinks from schools and replaced them with water and juices. Technically Coke maybe right, but it only made these changes to preempt strict regulations on state and federal levels.

4. Coca Cola shows how it is part of the solution by co-opting the exercise and “calories-in / calories out” message. It’s a sad day when nutrition and health messages are being brought to the public by the company with the biggest share of the responsibility pie for America’s obesity epidemic.

5. Despite all these shortcomings, this campaign by Coke is important. The company’s executives are not blind to the damage sugary soft drinks are doing to our health. But they have a fiduciary duty to the company shareholders. Their success (and annual bonus) are not measured by how healthy America is, but by how many more dollars of profit Coke brings in from selling product.

But the fact that Coca Cola is launching such an effort to educate the public means that it foresees troubled waters ahead for its business of selling sugar water. Which means that the hard work of individuals, public health groups, bloggers, and others to get folks unhooked from soda pop might finally be paying off.

Have you seen the new Coca Cola Obesity Commercial?

What are your thoughts?

  • florida sunshine

    no fat people in the ad – interesting…

  • http://twitter.com/eMatters2 eMatters

    2 minute commercial on obesity with no obese people. Check.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1114820806 Emily Shoff Wasouf

      The same m.o. McD’s uses. God forbid they showcase their hard market, it might turn people off.

  • carol

    its not the calories that are the problem, there was an advert a while ago by Coke that said that their drinks are 89-98% water – so its the 11-2% of chemicals and additives that are the issue. And does it not say something that people have seen the add and think that Coke is good for them because its 98% water – did the brain not stop and say hold on I am paying a lot of money for a can of water !?

  • CG

    There appears to be a very subtle acknowledgement that sugary beverages lead to obesity (ie….why they say they have canged portion sized, added in new no/low calorie beverages etc). I think if we can draw more attention to that, their own “admission” of a connection, it’d be a great step forward.

  • Cindy

    They failed to mention that diet drinks are just as bad for you, they may cause type 2 diabetes. Artificial sweeteners are also cancerous. Nothing about sugary content was mentioned in the commercial.

  • Karina

    Wow not a single fat person in the video. Was there also a coke zero column in the school vending machine ?

  • kiki

    Besides obesity, there are a host of other issues colas may be linked to, namely that recent study that linked died soda with depression. I don’t necessarily think it’s big businesses’ responsibility to teach us how to eat, however. While I admire Coke’s effort and decision to get into this conversation, I think personal responsibility for what one puts into his or her body is important.

    I realize it’s not that simple for everyone, and access to healthy foods is often a struggle for certain families. Junk foods are an easy, cheap way to feed oneself and one’s family, unfortunately.

  • Chef Marshall O’Brien

    Fooducate – thank you for the continual thoughtful discussion. Are you familiar with the Millennial generation? They are an emerging group on the horizon that will change the food system for the better. Or at least I hope so. And with regard to the sugared drink topic, they will continue to pressure processed food companies to evolve or go out of business.

  • SuperMom101

    Dasani Water (a Coca Cola product) is not just water – it’s “enhanced with minerals.” Interestingly it was a 23 year old who had lost 70 lbs that told me it was on her “do not drink list.”

    Hmmm.. are these “minerals” just manufacturing bi products and it’s an easy way to dispose of them?

    • Valerie

      Dasani is reverse osmosis water. The process to purify this water removes all minerals – in essence you’re drinking pure H2O, which tastes stale and not-refreshing to humans. They are adding back minerals to bring it closer to the mineral content of spring water, which humans find more palatable. Spring/artesian water has a ton of minerals in it – just check the labels.

  • Darryl Miglio

    Don’t drink so much Coke. Isn’t that a good start?

  • TiaWood.com

    “But the fact that Coca Cola is launching such an effort to educate the
    public means that it foresees troubled waters ahead for its business of
    selling sugar water” I disagree. I think Coca Cola is doing the smart thing by providing options for people who don’t want all sugar water. I think they will thrive as always in the future.

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  • Lim

    Here is an honest version of Coke’s Commercial: the voice over speaks to a lot of your points, this should be the version that airs!
    2 minute version:


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  • gbbg

    The ad implies a responsibility on the consumers and that is a very important step. Blaming Coke for the obesity problem won’t solve anything. They’re a market based company selling what the consumers want. I think the inherent message in the ad that drinking coke is harmful and further that consumers can make a choice.
    As long as we can make that healthy choice, we are in power. And I think, that’s the better way to go for everybody.

    • gbbg

      Nevermind, I think I saw the wrong ad. LOL

  • Cindyanne1

    I wonder if they’ll ever do something similar with teeth and not weight. All that sugar and acid is horrible for a person’s teeth! Sorry, Coke… but you’re junk food. And people have every right in the world to eat or drink as much junk food as they want, but don’t go trying to make it sound like it’s not junk food and bad for you from head to toe no matter what your size is.