It hasn't been a great year for soda makers. Accused of being one of the major causes of obesity, food nutritionists have all but declared war via campaigns that mocked the Coca-Cola bears and pleas to Beyonce to turn down a lucrative marketing deal with Pepsi. And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg almost succeeded in banning the sale of soft drinks over 16 ounces.
Trying to turn around soda's fat image, Coca-Cola used its 127th anniversary to promise to fight obesity by not advertising to children under 12 anywhere in the world (a commitment it already made in the U.S.) and offering low or no calorie beverage options in every market where it does business. The company also vowed to provide transparent nutrition information with calorie counts on all packages and support physical activity programs in all 200 countries where Coca-Cola is sold.
"Obesity is today's most challenging health issue, affecting nearly every family and community across the globe. It is a global societal problem which will take all of us working together and doing our part," said Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola's chairman and CEO. "We are committed to being part of the solution, working closely with partners from business, government and civil society."
To support the campaign, Coca-Cola launched a website, www.comingtogether.com, providing details of the global program and a 60-second version of its Coming Together video, a two minute video it released early this year.
The video urges people to "come together" to fight obesity and takes the opportunity to tout its low calorie products and "portion control versions" of its popular drinks.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest didn't think much of Coca-Cola's obesity pledges, putting out a steady stream of tweets calling the announcement "coke speak." "Coca-Cola is desperately trying to disassociate itself with obesity. Too bad the core product causes it," CSPI tweeted. The food group linked to its own version of the Coca-Cola Coming Together video and an infographic titled, "Sugar: too much of a sweet thing."