A shrug for Coca-Cola

I’ve spent several days trying to muster up enough outrage to post about this Coca-Cola ad:

There’s so much here to chew on. The hypocrisy of Coke claiming to be an ally in the fight against American obesity, when in fact they are one of its biggest contributors. The fact that 180 “low- and no-calorie choices,” out of a portfolio of 650 beverages, is laughably small. The insistence that calories are the only thing that matters when making healthy choices. The cheerful glossing over of artificial sweeteners in Coke’s reduced-calorie offerings, despite the fact that we have no idea whether they’re better for us than sugar. The fact that an anti-obesity ad features not one recognizably overweight or obese person–the people shown making healthy decisions are already slim.

But here’s the thing. Coke isn’t acting in a vacuum. They’re using airtime to subtly reinforce a message that already saturates the air we breathe: obesity is our fault. We, the consumers, bear the responsibility. Coke is trying. Really, they are. But in the end, we’re the ones who decide what goes into our bodies. The corporations can’t save us from ourselves.

This isn’t about obesity. Not really. It’s about putting us in our place.

And I’m over it.

So go ahead, Coke. Be cynical. Make us believe you’re on our side. Make us feel guilty, and thirsty, and dumb. It’s nothing worse than we already hear, every day we’re awake and alive. And until that constant hum changes pitch, I refuse to let it distress me.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “A shrug for Coca-Cola

  1. Oh for the actual sake of all that is damned. I live in the UK, so obviously I haven’t seen this, but Jesus Christ is it making me pissed. It’s the same hypocrisy we see here when shops make a big deal about their Fairtrade products and, one thinks, if Fairtrade is such an important thing to you then why is 3/4 of the choice NOT Fairtrade? Don’t then make it the customer’s fault and problem because they then chose a non-Fairtrade over a Fairtrade product you unsaintly bastards.
    I think you have every right to be pissed at this advert. What a tonne of contradictory messages and sad, sad spins for absolution.

  2. Veronika

    I blissfully don’t watch TV at all so I haven’t seen this either, but sadly I am not surprised. Not by the shitty ‘healthy’ choices, nor by the fact that there are only slim people in the commercial (because we don’t want overweight people in our image oh no!), and not the glossing over the fact that they are one of the major contributors to obesity in the world.

    What makes me truly sad is that it’ll work. It will work on the gullible public, and that is why they do it. And, because the public don’t know any better, they will keep swilling Coke products, whether low-calorie or just the regular stuff because the advert will have achieved its purpose. I’m thirsty – oh, Coke!

    • Yup. Yup yup yup. Although I think it’s actually going to make zero difference. The folks who are swayed by this will keep drinking as much Coke as they did before, and the folks who are upset by it are going to complain for a while and then go back to drinking as much Coke a they did before. So the only reason this ad exists is to stick a thumb in somebody’s eye.

      Look at me, being all cynical.

      • Veronika

        Nothing wrong with healthy cynicism!

        What I find particularly offensive about Coke products, however, is their ‘Vitamin Water’. Which is, unless it’s specifically diet, FULL OF SUGAR. How the flying f*ck can you call something ‘water’ when it has 5 teaspoons of sugar (I think) per bottle? Or was that per 100ml, I can’t remember. Either way, it’s a gimmick to sell sugared water with a teeny bit of vitamin pill (not a whole one) crushed into it to gullible public. *sigh*

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