Coca Cola Gets Into The Healthy Messaging Game

Courtesy Coca-Cola

NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) — Coca-Cola became one of the world’s most powerful brands by equating its soft drinks with happiness. Now it’s taking to the airwaves for the first time to address a growing cloud over the industry: obesity.

The Atlanta-based company on Monday will begin airing a two-minute spot during the highest-rated shows on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC in hopes of flexing its marketing muscle in the debate over sodas and their impact on public health. The ad lays out Coca-Cola’s record of providing drinks with fewer calories over the years and notes that weight gain is the result of consuming too many calories of any kind — not just soda.

In the ad, a narrator notes that obesity is an issue that “concerns all of us” but that people can make a difference when they “come together.” The spot was produced by the ad agencies Brighthouse and Citizen2 and is intended to tout Coca-Cola’s corporate responsibility to cable news viewers.

The company said its ads aren’t a reaction to negative public sentiment, however. Instead, the idea is to raise awareness about lower-calorie drinks and what it plans to do in coming months, said Stuart Kronauge, general manager of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America.

“There’s an important conversation going on about obesity out there, and we want to be a part of the conversation,” she said.

Another ad, which will run later this week during “American Idol” and before the Super Bowl, is much more reminiscent of catchy, upbeat advertising people have come to expect from Coca-Cola. It features a montage of activities that add up to burning off the “140 happy calories” in a can of Coke: walking a dog, dancing, sharing a laugh with friends and doing a victory dance after bowling a strike.

The 30-second ad, a version of which ran in Brazil last month, is intended to address confusion about the number of calories in soda, said Diana Garza Ciarlante, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Co. She said the company’s consumer research showed people thought there were as many as 900 calories in a can of soda.

When talking about calories and weight gain, Garza Ciarlante noted that the company had to be careful with the ads to remain consistent with its brand voice and avoid sounding “preachy.”

For Coca-Cola, the world’s No. 1 beverage company, the ads reflect the mounting pressures on the broader industry. Later this year, New York City is set to put into effect a first-in-the-nation cap on the size of soft drinks sold at restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, and other venues. The mayor of Cambridge, Mass., has already proposed a similar measure, saying she was inspired by New York’s move.

The company declined to say how much it was spending on the commercials, which it started putting together last summer. Furthermore, Coca-Cola declined to give details on what it plans for the year ahead.

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Featured image courtesy Getty Images. This post has been updated.