Coke: It's the Real Thing Keeping You Fat

Coca-Cola Co.A screen grab from a Coca-Cola video showing people riding a bicycle long enough to burn sufficient calories to consume a can of Coke.

NEW YORK --€” Coca-Cola (KO) is taking on obesity, this time with an online video showing how fun it could be to burn off the 140 calories in a can of its soda.

In the ad, the world's biggest beverage maker asks what would happen if people paid for a can of Coke by first working off the calories it contained. The ad, which notes that it typically takes 23 minutes of cycling to achieve that, shows a montage of people on a giant stationary bicycle happily trying to earn a can of its cola, with carnival music playing in the background.

The video is unusual because it so frankly addresses how many calories are in its drink. But it also takes a frequent criticism used by health advocates and spins it in a happy light.

It's so clever on so many levels, but it's twisted, too.

"It's so clever on so many levels, but it's twisted, too," said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer and author of "Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back."

Simon said she thought the video was a response to the recently released "Fed Up" movie, which is critical of the food industry's marketing tactics. In the movie, a health advocate states that a child would have to bike for an hour and 15 minutes to burn off the calories in a 20-ounce Coke.

Coca-Cola's video comes as soft drinks have faced growing criticism from health advocates who say they fuel obesity and chronic diseases related to diet. Numerous cities have tried to impose special taxes on sugary drinks, although none have succeeded, in large part because of heavy lobbying from the beverage industry.

In New York City, the Board of Health this week asked the state's highest court to reinstate a 16-ounce limit on sugary drinks sold in restaurants, stadiums and other venues. The measure, championed by former mayor Michael Bloomberg, was knocked down by a judge after a lawsuit led by the beverage industry.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, began addressing obesity for the first time in a TV ad last year. That ad took a far more serious tone, with a voiceover stating that weight gain is the result of consuming too many calories of any kind, not just soda.

It's an argument frequently used by food companies, which tend to stress the need for physical activity and moderation when addressing criticism about the nutritional content of their products. But health advocates say that glosses over the reality that many people are simply consuming too many calories and that it would be unrealistic for them to try and offset that with exercise, especially given people's increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

In the meantime, the soda industry is fighting to stop declining sales even without the impact of any special taxes or measures. Just last year, U.S. sales volume declined 3 percent, faster than the 1.2 percent drop the previous year, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest. And critics are increasingly taking aim at other sugary beverages sold by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (PEP), such as sports drinks and juices.

Judith Snyder, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said the latest video is part of a series that show "moments of delight and surprise" with Coke. She said it's intended to address the theme of energy balance in a lighthearted way.

She said it will be promoted on Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR), but won't run on TV.

At the end of the video, which runs for 1 minute and 40 seconds, the phrase "Movement is happiness" appears on the screen, followed by: "Where will happiness strike next?"

Laura Ries, president of the brand consulting firm Ries & Ries, said that the video could backfire because people might be turned off by the idea that they would need to cycle for 23 minutes just to burn off a Coke.

"They're showing exactly why you wouldn't want to drink a Coke. Twenty-three minutes on a bike is not fun for most people," she said.

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Ok so you bicycle to wear off the calories only to drink the Coke and get it all back?????

June 09 2014 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can only imagine the spirits of slaves, oppressed and abused to provide this powdered Coke-sugar-CAIN for the upper-classes, RELISHING in the IRONY of it all!!

We could have kept the sugar IN the natural sugar cane where it belongs, but nooo....!!!


June 09 2014 at 5:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The food nannies will hook up with the Obamacare Nazis to attempt to regulate availability of non-approved food. Just wait; the Nazis are moving.

June 08 2014 at 3:40 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Larry's comment

Thank god for the GOPee!

June 09 2014 at 5:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

And remember Coca Cola has a history of beating/killing union workers and their families in Latin America. Coke has over two hundred products...Boycott them all!

June 08 2014 at 9:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Anything in excess is bad, even sex. If you do not ingest too much of anything, you can stay healthy. Have a Coke, and a smile!

June 08 2014 at 7:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to iseedeadpeople24's comment

Any street corner DRUG DEALER will tell you the same thing!

Have a snort and a smile...!!!

June 09 2014 at 5:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why is nothing said about the Beer & Alcoholic Drinks our politicians swig down at their fund raising events? They want to pick on soda drinkers and not setting a good example themselves!
How much calories & sugar in those drinks? "A Lot!" Children play hard & always moving around to burn calories. Politicians get little exercise. Except flapping their jaws.

June 08 2014 at 1:27 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The internet is the cause of obesity.

June 07 2014 at 10:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Coke was sugary 50 years ago, back people also didn't buy bottled water; yet Americans weren't fat. Look somewhere else when trying to nail-down the cause of the obesity epidemic. Perhaps the processed food producers can tell us what has changed over the last 50 years in our food. That being said, a lack of physical activity doesn't really help the situation, either.

June 07 2014 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jpark377's comment

50 years ago coke wasn't sold in EVERY store, on EVERY block, 24 hours a day, in EVERY size from 8 ounce mini cans to huge THREE LITER BOTTLES, discounted by the GROSS in your local Walmart/Costco food-drug outlet.

This to couch potatoes, flabbing out in front of a 40 inch flat screen every available waking moment.

SUGAR was used back then, not the diabetes causing High Fructose Corn Syrup food-drug that has made Coke an ADDICTION for so many.

And Americans WERE fat 50 years ago!!

June 09 2014 at 5:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Everything and anything can be fin for you, except smoking of course, provided its done in moderation and responsible consumption. Drink 6 cans of coke a day? Yes, you'll likely have some extra weight on you. Have a can or two a week-no problem. Nuff said.

June 07 2014 at 9:11 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to car4068043's comment

Nobody drinks just a can a week.

Nuff said...

June 09 2014 at 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So coke comes up with an advertising campaign to try to negate the fact that the carbonated sugar water they market, has the nutritional value of a rock. With the bonus of empty calories. To try to placate those that are so against soda pop. This is not news its strategy. I am not buying either side. I only have soda pop once in a while. Could live without it. But my choice. I will not dictate to others what they should drink. But for me I opt out. Just means there is more for others if they want it. And stop the presses if you put calories into your body which is a machine take in more than you need, you have to work it off. Otherwise the body will store it.

June 07 2014 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply