Coca-Cola To America: ‘Yes, We’re Making You Fat’

The biggest story in the global branding game over the past few months was the innovative partnership between Pepsi and Beyoncé–a deal that gives an unprecedented degree of creative power to the world’s biggest pop star. Mark Bittman may not think it’s OK for celebrities to sell soda, but that won’t stop Pepsi’s new frontwoman from dominating America’s biggest PR stunt, The Super Bowl.*

One thing you almost certainly won’t hear Beyoncé discussing in 2013: the relationship between soft drinks and obesity. A certain other soda, on the other hand, just announced plans to address the issue directly.

This surprises us as much as anybody, but Pepsico‘s mortal enemy Coca-Cola just took a first step into the public health fray by creating a campaign designed to address America’s obesity epidemic–all in the company’s own best interests, of course.

The upcoming prime-time commercials will highlight Coke’s history of making low-calorie products while emphasizing the fact that soda isn’t the only thing Americans should probably consume a little less of. How brave!

Critics like Mike Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (which isn’t Coke’s biggest fan), say that the ads are really just a PR stunt that “looks like a page out of damage control 101” and that “if the company [were] serious about helping reduce obesity, it would stop fighting soda taxes”. Ha!

Future commercials will highlight Coke’s newfound sense of responsibility by emphasizing a diet soda push while listing activities that could help consumers burn off the “140 happy calories” in every can of Coke like walking, dancing, laughing and bowling(?).

If Coke were really serious about trying to get Americans to drink less soda, then we think this new initiative would be about as effective as New York City’s–which is to say not very. Given the fact that the whole campaign is really a defensive move to shore up the Coke brand against charges that it is extremely unhealthy, we feel like the company’s handlers might just be onto something.

*Multi-tasking queen Beyoncé will also sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at President Obama’s second inauguration (and if you couldn’t make it into that event, Ticketmaster wants you to get over it already).