Arun Sudhaman 17 Jan 2013 // 11:42AM GMT
It is easy to be sceptical about Coca-Cola's latest campaign, which sees the company address obesity for the first time in its ads. After all, we are 'only' talking about an advertising campaign here, even if it does attempt to lay out the substantive steps Coca-Cola has taken to provide lower-calorie drink options. Understandably, Coca-Cola is aiming to become a stronger voice in an obesity debate that has put many beverage players on the back foot. And there is certainly something to be said for a company that is attempting to engage with negative sentiment rather than ignoring it altogether. However, this move cannot help but remind me of an initiative from the company's bitter rival, Pepsico. The Pepsi Refresh project was an innovative attempt to begin building a more sustainable platform for Pepsi's growth, amid criticism of its unhealthy products. Ultimately, though, Pepsi Refresh was deemed a failure, because it saw Pepsico reallocate its marketing budget away from conventional advertising, during a year when Pepsi was overtaken by Diet Coke. If Coca-Cola is serious about obesity, then it will need to prove that through its behaviour, specifically its product range. It is worth nothing that Pepsi Refresh was scuppered by a sceptical investor community, and the company has since inked a big-budget deal with Beyonce that makes little mention of long-term sustainability. I suspect that Coca-Cola's anti-obesity drive, for all its laudable ambition, will be subject to the same financial pressures.