Coca-Cola until lately has successfully equated its soft drinks in the consumers’ minds with happiness. The ongoing criticism concerning the link of soft drinks with obesity (especially in the UK and US) has casted its heavy shadow over the entire soft drink industry. Coca-Cola, being the leader of the industry, has been trying to head off those rising concerns with a considerable shift in marketing strategy.

The Honest” Approach

One of the first somehow clumsy steps of the soda giant was to launch two minute TV ads, actually trying to fend the criticism off its products (which are cunningly marching before the consumers’ eyes). Coca-Cola’s first awkward answer to the public criticism looked more like a nervous damage control exercise than a meaningful contribution toward addressing obesity.

Cynical consumers would translate the above ad roughly to:  Hey, obesity is a problem. What do we do about it? We offer you a new range of options, now it’s up to you. Not our problem anymore. Not to mention the voiceover claiming, “If you eat and drink more calories than you burn off you’ll gain weight!” Well…no wonder, Coke…

After taking that dodgy step towards the obesity problem in a rather reactive way, Coca-Cola began designing its below- and above-the-line strategies in a more proactive and consistent way. This strategy was spread out globally, showing empathy and attempting to make an impact on the lives of wanna-be pound-droppers, while simultaneously building a more active lifestyle in the youth’s mindset.

The Magic Pills

Spain, July 2013. Newspaper readers come across a strange ad featuring a very effective weight-loss pill branded as the Magic Pills. Losing weight could never be more convenient and easy, right? Those interested discovered that getting their hands on this magic pill wouldn’t be that easy, since they had to overcome unexpected obstacles like endless staircases, barking dogs, taxis and buses breaking down, and grannies with heavy loads. In the end, it turns out that all that was a well-staged, thought-provoking and motivating prank from Coca-Cola, which is trying to support people that need to lose weight by showing them that just a little bit of effort and activity in their routine does much more for their weight and fitness than a promising “magic” pill. As the punch line states:  “The ‘magic pill’ is inside you and you can take it every morning!”

Happiness is Movement, and Movement is Happiness

This is a campaign that draws together the present happiness brand tagline with the idea of leading a healthy life. The tv spot is actually a storytelling animation of a man’s life. Using his characteristic animatronic puppet technique, Johnny Kelly of Nexus – known for the direction of Chipotle‘s “Back to the Start” video – is narrating the happiest moments in the life of the main character, from meeting the love of his life to the birth of their child, while posing the joyful chicken-and-egg themed question. Is it happiness that motivates us to move or does movement make us happy?

With this campaign, Coca-Cola sends a different message, showing that obesity is due to the sedentary lifestyle that people are leading. Moreover, it showcases a lively depiction of how an energetic and active routine uplifts your emotional state and motivates you towards a healthier lifestyle.

Within this conceptual framework, Coca-Cola (with the help of SCPF agency in Barcelona) has invented a distinct and far healthier elevator. Hop in!

Coca-Cola Chile supported this campaign in a surprising and rather delightful way. Inhabitants of Viña del Mar were quite surprised to realize that the taxi they hailed was no regular taxi. The taxi was equipped with a pedaling system which customers could use to reduce their fare while sitting in the back seat.

The Grandfather

This UK tv spot contrasts the lives of two men – the one on the left being from the 40’s (approximately) and the one on the right being from today. Both men are Coca-Cola consumers. The man from the past is by far living a healthier and moderate life concerning both his eating habits and routine exercise; the modern man, on the other hand, is not only eating more and less healthy food, but also living a sedentary lifestyle due to his stressful work and commuting habits. The advertisement is set to Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” and uses the strapline, “Live like Grandpa did – Move more, Eat well, Take it Easy.” The ad gives straightforward advice to consumers, while simultaneously trying to prove that Coca-Cola can be incorporated in moderation into a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Advertising alone cannot address the problem of obesity, neither can starchy educational films, but raising awareness of energy balance and helping people realize that small changes in their routine can make a big difference in the long run will be surprisingly effective. Obesity is a problem that can be fought proactively and Coca-Cola successfully has been putting more effort into inviting people to exercise more and have a balanced diet rather than bluntly defending its portfolio products. And yes, a balanced diet could include Coke consumption in moderation.

At the end of the day, a balanced diet, some exercise and personal quality time is the antidote to these modern hectic times.

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