Is Coke’s stand against obesity in new ad genuine concern or hypocrisy?

The Coca-Cola company is clearly under siege from all those Mayor Bloomberg types who would like to outlaw supersized sweetened beverages. For proof, look no further than the new Coke commercial set to air on Monday night in which the company appears to fall on its sword admitting that it’s at least partly to blame for the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The narrator, with her soothing feminine voice, expresses concern for how much weight we’ve gained as a nation and how much Coke is doing to be a part of the solution: increasing the number of low calorie and no-calorie beverages, reducing the amount in serving-size bottles, and putting calorie counts on the front of beverage labels.

But she gets her digs in too reminding us right off the bat that Coke has been around for 125 years. Since the obesity problem only started in the 1970’s, the implication is that clearly Coke couldn’t be the culprit. (I’m guessing the company also wanted to respond to this “real bears” Coke-bashing video that put the blame solely on the cola.)

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We’re also told by the Coke manufacturer that it “will take action by all of us” to fix the crisis as images of kids exercising flash on the screen. Implication: Don’t blame sugar-sweetened beverages; blame video games, television, and too much sitting around all day.

Following that bit of information, the narrator provides a condescending nutrition lecture on how “all calories count no matter where they come from.” While that’s technically true, the body benefits far more from the calories in a peach, carrot, or string bean, than from those found in carbonated sugar water.

No nutritionist would ever tell you that it’s okay to substitute calories from fruits and vegetables for soda in order to achieve weight loss.

With that in mind, I think Coke’s touchy feeling “come together” theme in this commercial rings that much more hollow. Do they really think they’re going to unify with public health experts who keeping trying to steer us away from the empty calories in these beverages?

Coca-Cola spokesperson Ben Sheidler told NBC’s TODAY show on Monday that the coming together theme is all about more choices and transparency. “In it we acknowledge that obesity is the issue of this generation and that we want to step into the national discourse to help identify ways to address the problem with willing partners.”

No doubt, they’ll probably convince some consumers, but I’m wondering how you responded to the ad that’s posted above. Do you think Coke’s concern about the obesity epidemic is genuine? Do you think they’ve been unfairly blamed for the problem?

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