Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Why it's Okay for Coca-Cola to Support Physical Activity

Coca Cola sponsor Olympic Games, Coca Cola sponsor World Cup, Coca Cola support physical activity

Disclaimer: I was NOT in any way told to write this post, but I found the information I learned at the BritMums Live event very useful, and thought that I should share it with you.

Before I went to BritMums Live and had the meeting with Coca-Cola, I saw a newspaper article, explaining why Coca-Cola should not be allowed to sponsor physical activity such as the Olympic Games and World Cup. The main point from the whole article is that, Coca-Cola is unhealthy, but they tried to make people think that the obesity problem is due to the lack of physical activity.

It all seem very plausible, but I had my doubts about their one sided reasoning. I'd like to hear what Coca-Cola has to say before shrugging their moves off as a PR stunt or money making opportunity. I was really glad that I was invited to the meeting and heard from Coca-Cola about what they have been doing (instead of just sponsoring World Cup and Olympic Games), and what else they are planning to do to support physical activity:

The Past:
31 years ago, Coca-Cola has launched Diet Coke. That was their first step to a healthier drink, although they admit that it doesn't taste like the original coke.

8 years ago, with the new technology, they created Coca-Cola Zero, which is basically Diet Coke but with a closer taste to the original Coke. The sales for Coca-Cola Zero has increased by 26% since last year, and it is their fastest growing product in the Coca-Cola range.

Coca-Cola is injecting £50 million to promote Coca Cola Zero, their healthier, zero calories product

Coca-Cola has donated £20 million to Park Lives Campaign
- This year the 3 involving councils are New Castle, London Borough of Newham and Birmingham
- They have plans to include more councils in the campaign next year
- To encourage people to get active by setting up activities in the local parks and encourage people to join in (check out www.parklives.com for more information and activity timetables)

Support StreetGames
- StreetGames is a UK charity providing sporting opportunities for teenagers in disadvantaged communities across the country
- The Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero World Cup promotion packs comes with unique codes to win one of a million limited edition Coca-Cola footballs. And for every valid entry made at www.winaball.co.uk, Coca-Cola will donate 10p to StreetGames

Coca-Cola is launching Glaceau SmartWater in the UK in the next couple of months
- Vapour distilled water with electrolytes

Coca-Cola is launching the new Coca-Cola Life around end of August
- 30% less Sugar than the original Coca-Cola
- uses the natural sweetener, Stevia plant extract, as their sugar substitute ingredient
- Encourage people who are not so keen in the Zero and Diet versions to cut down their sugar intake

Boosting the sales for the Mini cans
- Enjoy the treats in smaller quantity
- Feel free to ask your local newspaper agents to stock the Mini cans instead

Provide useful Online Tools on their website:
- Workout: shows you the amount of exercise needed to balance out the calories intake from Coca-Cola products
- Caffeine Counter: developed together with Tommy's, to show you how much caffeine you take in from assorted drinks. Note that a cup of tea or a bar of dark chocolate contains more caffeine than a can of original Coca-Cola.

- Coca-Cola do not directly market their caffeine products to children under 12 years old
- Coca-Cola do not market their energy drinks to children under 16 years old

If Coca-Cola is just injecting money into the Olympic Games and World Cup for the sake of advertising, I can understand why people are concerned. But they are doing a lot of campaigns to help the nation to be healthier without losing all the fun (to me, a treat should not be excluded from life, or life will just be boring).

If you are still not convinced, consider the following:

Did you know that the leading Government Obesity Adviser has advised to remove fruit juice from Guidelines, because it contains as much sugar as Coca-Cola? (Full details here on Huffington Post)

Did you know that a can of Coca-Cola doesn't contain as much sugar as other traditional and upmarket fizzy drinks? (The Guardian)

If it's not okay for Coca-Cola to sponsor World Cup and the Olympic Games, why is it okay for Pepsi to hire footballers to advertise for them?

I'm not saying that you should drink Coca-Cola freely. Any fizzy drinks (it's a bit unfair to just pick on a particular brand like Coca-Cola or McDonalds, don't you think?), wine, or juice should be treated as treats. They are something fun to drink, and should never replace water. Even tea and coffee should be consumed in moderation.

Imagine Kenco Coffee, Twinings Tea, Heineken Beer or Tropicana Juice banner at the Olympic Games or World Cup. If you can accept that, then it's okay for Coca-Cola to support physical activities.