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The Real Thing? Two Takes on Coke’s Anti-Obesity Campaign

Released: 15-Jan-2013 5:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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Newswise — Coca-Cola’s advertising campaign about the causes of obesity is attracting numerous supporters and detractors. Two Cornell University experts express different opinions on the motivations and effectiveness of the advertisements. Both experts are available for interviews. They are:

David R. Just, co-director of the Cornell University Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition, and an associate professor of marketing:

“The soda companies would like to shake the perception that they are the chief engineers of the rise in obesity. They have spent millions of dollars trying to find lower calorie drinks that will sell, with the amazing success of bottled water and zero-calorie sodas.

“This is an example of how private industry acting on its own conscience can address a public-health issue. It is a safe bet that these innovations have had a bigger impact on reducing calorie consumption than any ban on 16-ounce drinks. This is Coca-Cola's way of making sure they get credit where credit is due.”

Jeff Niederdeppe is an expert on the effects of mass media campaigns and health behavior, and an assistant professor of communication:

“This reminds me of the late 1990s when tobacco giant Philip Morris launched their own campaigns that they claimed were intended to ‘reduce youth smoking.’ In reality, youth who saw these so-called ‘prevention’ ads were more interested in smoking than young people who did not see them.

“A company that spends billions of dollars marketing a product that is the single largest driver of the obesity epidemic is probably not a trustworthy messenger in efforts to reduce obesity. If the Coca-Cola company truly wanted to reduce obesity, they would stop aggressively marketing their product to children and spending millions of dollars to oppose community efforts to reduce sugary beverage consumption.”

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