Will Coca-Cola's obesity ad work?

With the spotlight on soda's impact on American obesity, the company will air ads defending its record.

By Aimee Picchi Jan 15, 2013 8:09AM

Credit: The Coca-Cola Company
Caption: ‘Stay Extraordinary’ can designWith soda makers under fire for contributing to America's obesity epidemic, Coca-Cola (KO) plans to fight back with a two-minute commercial defending its track record.

The commercial, which is four times as long as a standard 30-second TV spot, notes that Coke offers low-calorie versions of its drinks -- and stresses that people are getting fat from not only sodas.

"If you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, you'll gain weight," the ad's narrator says.

But it's questionable whether Coke's advertisement will make much of a dent in the debate. The spot will air on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, which draw far fewer viewers than the top broadcast networks. (To see the ad, click here.)

For instance, Fox News drew an average of 1.5 million prime-time viewers at the start of January, compared with 8.3 million viewers for CBS at the same time, according to Nielsen. CNN and MSNBC generally draw fewer viewers than Fox News.

An even bigger issue may be whether Coke's message is persuasive. After all, Coke is the world's biggest beverage company and has a vested interest in keeping consumers buying its sodas, whether they're sugar-filled or sugar-free.

Soda makers have come under fire from the likes of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who last year pushed a ban of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. The move was meant to fight obesity and help New Yorkers live healthier lifestyles.

Coke's obesity ad "looks like a page out of damage control 101," the Center for Science in the Public Interest's executive director, Mike Jacobson, told the Associated Press. "They're trying to disarm the public."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said in a statement that the campaign is an effort to avoid "sensible" changes, such as a soda tax. Coke defended its commercials, noting that it wanted to be part of the conversation about obesity, according to the AP. 

Coke will be going for bigger audiences later this week, when it airs a shorter, catchier commercial that provides a montage of activities -- such as dancing or walking a dog -- that burn off the calories in a Coke can. The shorter ad will run during "American Idol" and before the Super Bowl, the AP notes.

More on Money Now

Jan 15, 2013 2:37PM

What a financial claw.  The example of restricting the size of beverages containing sugar gives rise to massive, and unnecessary, price increases for what are already exhuberantly-priced drinks.  Yep, save us from ourselves.


It's getting creepy that there are people out there who think that they lack the intelligence to learn, and teach their kids, responsible behavior, and would rather dumb themselves down and hand the reins over to people who are strangers and give them control over a growing number of aspects of their lives.

Jan 15, 2013 7:06PM
Iam 69 yrs. old and drank coke all my life as much as 10-15 a day Iam over weight ,but not that much just because I do nothing about it. Why don't people relieze  living causes death. Quit looking for execuses for being fat. Do something about it if it not medical. thank you
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