It’s no surprise beverage manufacturers like Coca-Cola are endlessly trying to boost their soft drink sales amid the frequent waves of criticism they have faced by health advocates. In the fight against obesity, sugary drinks have been seen as public enemy No. 1, fueling chronic diseases related to diet. In a recent ad, Coca-Cola tried to compose a “new fun way to pay for Coke,” which has inadvertently turned into a public health warning about the effects of soda on the body.
“A Coke used to cost 5 cents,” read the ad on YouTube. “But what if a 12-oz. Coke cost 140 calories?” The ad blatantly acknowledges the average time to burn 140 calories while biking is 23 minutes if you’re 140 lbs., followed by stating, “But hey, everyone’s different.” Although the beverage company has cleverly displayed a “fun” scenario to burn off the calories of a 12-oz. Coke, consumers may not be into spending 23 minutes of cycling to eliminate a can of sugar.
"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, to the Associated Press. Simon believes the Coca-Cola ad is a response to the recently released Fed Up movie. The film, for instance, shows a child would have to bike for an hour and 15 minutes to burn off the calories in a 20-oz. Coke.
Although the ad tends to address the theme of energy balance in a lighthearted way, it falls short of persuasion and can actually backfire since people may be turned off by the idea of bike riding for 23 minutes to burn off the soda. The amount of time required is a lot of time for those who are busy or lazy. "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," Laura Ries, president of the brand consulting firm Ries & Ries told the AP.
Trade your soft drink for some flavored water by just adding slices of your favorite fruits and veggies, no 23-minute bike ride necessary.