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January 14 2013

Coca-Cola Transitions To Offense

Julie Gunlock

 

Soda companies have had a tough time lately. These companies have been blamed for everything from obesity and cancer to loneliness, tooth decay, and even lost limbs.

But now, it looks like they're fighting back:

Coca-Cola became one of the world's most powerful brands by equating its soft drinks with happiness. Now it's taking to the airwaves for the first time to address a growing cloud over the industry: obesity.

The Atlanta-based company on Monday will begin airing a two-minute spot during the highest-rated shows on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC in hopes of flexing its marketing muscle in the debate over sodas and their impact on public health. The ad lays out Coca-Cola's record of providing drinks with fewer calories over the years and notes that weight gain is the result of consuming too many calories of any kind - not just soda.

This is important not just for Coca-Cola but for the smaller producers of soda and specialty-drinks that contain sugar. These companies are also being hurt by the food nannies and their efforts to ban, tax, and limit consumers’ access to these products. 

Unfortunately, all too often now, big corporations simply cave to the food nannies and these so-called “health and consumer advocacy” organizations. Rather than fight back against the misinformation spread by these groups, they often acquiesce to the demands of these groups or stay quiet hoping the firestorm will die down.  And while some do choose to fight back, their decision to do so comes easy. After all, adding “fight back against the idiot activists” to the do-list is easy when a team of corporate lawyers and public relations professionals are kept on retainer.

So, when Coca-Cola takes its considerable resources to hit back at the nannies, it serves the smaller drink producers and the small business owners who sell these items. These smaller producers and small business owners are what the nannies like to call “the little guys” and the activists and nannies just love to say their purpose is to stand up for “the little guys”…except when those little guys get in the way of their regulatory agenda. Nice.

For instance, why haven’t these food nannies and health activists responded to the half-million New Yorkers who have joined a coalition against Mayor Nanny Bloomberg’s sugary drink ban?  This coalition—New Yorkers for Beverage Choices—has been very vocal in trying to explain that Mayor Michael "you'll have to suffer a little more" Bloomberg's large-sized sugary drink ban will hurt them—the “little guys?”  

This is why large corporations need to fight back. They need to defend themselves against the absurd suggestion that soda alone causes obesity. The added benefit of this self-defense: helping smaller producers and businesses. This ultimately it leads to a freer marketplace—a marketplace where people make decisions free of scare tactics, junk science, bans, taxes and restrictions. 

I think this new offensive stance calls for a Coke and a smile. 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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