Last Wednesday night, Coronation Street fans were the first British TV viewers to witness Coca-Cola’s anti-obesity marketing push
Fans of the latest happenings in Weatherfield experienced the two-minute epic Coming Together, which reminded them that all calories, including those in Coke, count when managing weight. Later in the evening they could have also seen Be OK!, a 30-second ad that explains how many calories are in a can of Coke and how much physical activity is needed to burn those calories up.
Officially, the push is to encourage consumers to exercise and make them aware of low-calorie options - but Coke is also hoping to appease health campaigners calling for sanctions against sugary drinks. We asked three experts how well the ads do both these jobs:
Robert Metcalfe MD,
Coca-Cola must be very worried about the threat of legislation to produce Coming Together - two minutes of smug self-justification that doesn’t ring true. It doesn’t make a product that “brings people together” or “reminds us what we all have in common”. If you start to build a rational, healthy-eating campaign on that premise, the cracks start to show. It feels distinctly disingenuous to maintain that Diet Coke was created 30 years ago because of today’s obesity problem. Throw in patronising guff about calories and by the time we get to “keeping our families healthy and happy is a journey”, most viewers will have lost the will to live.
Be OK! is better, not least because it is 90 seconds shorter. It is still nonsense when it comes to nutrition and introduces the idea of ‘Happy Calories’ - a breakthrough overlooked by dieticians. Play nutrition messages straight or it looks as though you’re trying to have your happy calorie cake and eat it. 2/5
Senior creative lead, G2 Joshua
I admire the simplicity of Be OK! It acknowledges the problem but provides a solution. Yes, Coke has a significant calorific value but it’s acceptable when coupled with an active lifestyle a lifestyle Coca-Cola is working to cultivate as part of its over-arching brand experience.
I hope the ad will appease the health campaigners, as Coca-Cola is looking to tackle the problem in a positive fashion. It feels like it’s targeted towards children and their parents with the aim to help educate - it isn’t there to sell the product.
However, a single ad can only do so much and that’s why the Coming Together ad is impactful here - it promotes the larger work done by the brand. How many of us realise how many sports and activities Coca-Cola sponsors and why it does so?
I’d like to think it will change a few minds. 4/5
Freelance creative consultant
Coming Together is a lame, saccharine two-minute montage that screams in-house production. No one but a captive audience could watch it all the way through it doesn’t have an idea, a hook, or even a good song. And those low production values signify just how low down the pecking order this issue must be within Coca-Cola’s communication priorities. If it looks like a token gesture, and feels like a token gesture, then it probably is a token gesture.
Coke’s message at the moment is not about healthy drinking or calorie offsetting, it’s about polar bears. For its Arctic Home campaign [to raise awareness and funds for the polar bear and its habitat], the company has changed its packaging and sunk a lot of money into creative and SEO. By the end of the campaign, Coca-Cola may well have turned the polar bear into an icon for the brand.
What this shows is that when Coca-Cola decides to go for something, it really goes for it. But it doesn’t seem to really care about obesity, or it would be putting all its resources behind the topic.
An in-house video, a low-key ad about burning calories? That’s not going for it. 2.5/5