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 began airing a two-minute spot during the highest-rated shows on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC with a marketing message as part of the debate over soft drinks 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.
The company declined to say how much it was spending on the commercials, which it started putting together last summer.
For Coca-Cola, the world’s No. 1 beverage company, the ads reflect the mounting pressures on the broader industry. PepsiCo Inc., the No. 2 soda maker, recently signed a wide-ranging endorsement deal with pop singer Beyonce, which led to critics calling for her to drop the contract or donate the funds to groups that fund health initiatives.
Recent studies have suggested that sugary drinks cause people to pack on pounds. A decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans, for example, suggested that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight and amplifies a person’s risk of obesity.