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Coca-Cola doesn’t think it has a sugar problem despite Jamie Oliver’s call for clampdown


By Natalie Mortimer, N/A

September 4, 2015 | 4 min read

Coca-Cola has this morning (4 September) launched a tactical ad push to highlight its range of low calorie and sugar free drinks just hours after Jamie Oliver released a documentary on his “absolute war” against sugar on Channel 4.

The drinks company is running ads in newspapers and on Twitter after Coke was featured in Oliver’s Sugar Rush, where it claimed that every member of a village in Mexico drank two litres of the drink a day. One scene showed a mother alternating between breast milk and Coke to her baby.

The documentary suggested that the sugary drink is partly to blame for the fact that Type 2 diabetes is Mexico’s leading cause of death in a country where the average diet is dominated by high-calorie processed foods and sugary drinks.

In line with its ongoing shift to run more health-conscious ads, Coca-Cola used the full page advert to reel off a string of figures around how it's working to reduce the amount of sugar free products, such as Coke Zero and Diet Coke, which it produces. When approached by The Drum a Coca-Cola Great Britain spokesperson said the adverts are “a continuation of marketing activity we’ve been running all year.”

It’s the latest criticism aimed at Coke for its sugary drinks. The business has routinely been urged by health experts and anti-obesity campaign groups to do more to tackle obesity rates worldwide. Some complainants have also called on governments to impose tougher financial constraints on sugary products such as a soda tax in order to convince people not to buy them. In response, Coke has opted to launch new variants and introduce smaller cans as well as promote healthier lifestyles in both its marketing and sponsorships.

Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola’s chief executive last month penned an article in the Wall Street Journal in which he pledged the company will “do a better job” of being transparent about its research into sugar after being accused of deceiving the public about its support of scientific research. “We will also continue our work to provide more choices, in smaller pack sizes, in more communities—waters, lower-calorie and lower-sugar drinks, diet soda and zero-calorie drinks,” he added.

The ongoing war on the sweet stuff has heated up in recent weeks with Tesco putting a stake in the ground in the debate around marketing and selling high-sugar drinks pledging to pull all juice drinks with added-sugar, such as Ribena and Capri-Sun, that are marketed at children from its shelves.

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