Before watching a YouTube video about Something Very Important today (I think it might have been a cute porcupine), I was treated to an ad for Coke.
More specifically, an ad by Coke, about Coke, and for Coke… about how great Coke is.
This one really bothered me. Because it is more insidious than most. The logic is more twisted and so the message more dangerous.
I described it to the husband, trying, by describing it and raging out blindly for a bit, to pin down exactly what about it made me just so… angry.
Him: “So… basically it’s like ‘Yay! We’re beating you with a smaller stick!”
Coke waxes PR and BS about all the changes they’ve voluntarily made (emphasis theirs) and about how every calorie counts — a message delivered just before they show some kids packing sandwiches in their lunches. (Careful of those sandwiches kids, they’ll rot your teeth and make you fat).
“All calories count, no matter where they come from”.
Did Coke have a teenager with an eating disorder write their campaign?
“Food companies no longer fear the calorie-counting message…the emphasis on calories allows food companies to take the focus of consumers away from the ingredients, processing methods, and the overall quality of their foods.”
“All calories count, no matter where they come from” is simplistic and dangerous nonsense.
To look only at calories is to be blind to the sweeteners and additives and deeply, deeply unfoodlike products that make up Coke’s food products.
And let’s be clear, Coke does not make any products which are good for you.
There is no message Coke can put out about how they are part of the solution. By existing, Coke is part of the problem. A big part. The best Coke can do is be less of the problem. You don’t go to a cigarette company for advice on fighting lung cancer.
Granted, adults (those who are not addicted to Coke’s many hyper-sugar saturated liquid candy crack drinks) can decide to make a time and place for eating – or drinking – garbage. But that doesn’t make it not garbage.
And that doesn’t make it not terribly suspect to suggest that swapping super sugary sugar drinks for super sugary juice drinks in vending machines in schools — a lucrative activity for Coke, those machines ain’t donated — merits a gold damn star.
“We call it ‘weight washing’. And it’s a bit of a worry when you see these large corporations get involved in public health,” she says. “They’re not public health experts. They’re in the business of making money and selling product.”
“They always focus on physical activity to draw attention away from the contribution of their products to overweight and obesity. What we’d really like to see is Coca Cola selling less sugary drinks, getting them out of schools and sports centres… and we’d like to see them not marketing to teenagers.”
I don’t buy it, Coke. The message or the product.
Thanks to the Center for Science in the Public Interest for cutting through Coke’s warm blanket of PR with their truth scissors: