Can you fight obesity and drink Coca-Cola at the same time?

Fgo    June 15, 2015

Organization Name:


Industry: Beverages

Name of Contact: The Coca-Cola Company P.O. Box 1734
Atlanta, GA 30301
Attn: Industry and Consumer Affairs
(404) 676-2121

Web References:,,,,,, and Coke official channels on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram.

Can you fight obesity and drink Coca-Cola at the same time?

Writing about customer engagement for a product like smart phones or coffee, may be an easier thing to do than carbonated, sugary drinks. But not only that; if I want to talk about obesity and health risk caused by soda drinks, it is even harder to think about how to achieve a high level of customer engagement.

Between 2013 and 2014 Coca-Cola launched a campaign that included social media channels to promote this campaign.

The facts in North America

Mexico and the U.S are at the top of the countries with more obesity in the world according to OECD and Quartz. They also are two of the bigger consumers of Coca-Cola products, according to official numbers of The Coca-Cola Co. Both countries are also concerned about the obesity problems that their citizens face in current times.

Coca-Cola is available in every place in Mexico where you can find people established. Some of these places don’t even have fresh water available, but you will find a corner store where you can buy a Coca-Cola. Some 33% of Mexicans are obese and 71% are either obese or overweight according to the country’s latest statistics. Soda is a big problem. Mexico does not only enjoy carbonated, sugary drinks, it is actually the world’s number one country consuming Coca-Cola products, and it represents 11% of the global sales of the Coca-Cola Company.

Coca-Cola has been facing hard critics in relation to their speech trying to make people conscious about health and sports. Many may think that this is like the Vatican trying to promote a new brand of preservatives, yet being part of Coca-Cola’s marketing team specifically in topics like health and nutrition may be a tough work to do. Nevertheless, they have come up with a strategy to promote their products to new generations, help kids in sport related programs and make people self-conscious about health and sports.

They launched their campaign in Mexico with the name “together for your well-being” (Juntos por el bienestar, as it is called in Spanish)

and this campaign in English for the U.K

Their campaign in Mexico was based on two different websites. “Bienestar Integral” (comprehensive wellness) and “Ponte al cien” (get your self in full). Their commitment is to engage communities into sports and against obesity through different sport programs with ambassadors who are gold medal Olympians and important sport personalities from Mexico. One of the programs pretended to measure the reaction of human bodies in relation to the surrounding environment. According to Coca-Cola the program works by creating an individual diet and an individual exercise program or routine for each individual that is part of the program. They subscribed more than 50,000 kids between the ages of 6 and 15 and according to them 95 % improved their physical capacity. Their other program pretended to promote healthy and active life styles and to remind you about the company’s 70 different brands and 500 different options, which 40% are low or without calories. Similar steps were followed in the U.S.

Coca-Cola’s social media approach

Transparency, consumer’s privacy protection, respect for copyright, being responsible in the use of technology avoiding organizations or websites that use excessive tracking software, adware, malware or spyware, and monitoring their social media behaviour, are Coca-Cola’s five principles for social media

It is interesting that in their guidelines for personal use of Social Media they mention that posts or comments that require delicate subject matters expertise such as obesity among others, employees must avoid the temptation to respond directly unless it is done with approved messaging the company has prepared for those topics.

The campaign against obesity was very conservative, not innovative and in my perception poor.

The videos do not show that spark that most of Coca-Cola’s ads have, they don’t seem engaging and their publicity is not great. I find that in general is hard to follow their posts in social media. When you find information; you get long videos that are more “documentary like” which makes it harder to follow. Their approach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter was very quiet.

A lesson for Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola launched a commercial called Honest Coca-Cola obesity commercial. While doing my research I wanted to find a copy of this video but it was not easy to find it on the Internet. Something interesting in relation to customer engagement is that I could find in a much easier way a fake commercial that simulates to be the “Honest Coca-Cola obesity commercial” before I could find the original. Based on my research Coca-Cola made a mistake by not making this campaign more visible and the results are that it is much easier to find the bad publicity in regards to their campaign than to find the achievements that such campaign brought to the company. Find below the video that contains both versions, first the fake one followed by the real one by Coca-Cola.

When you search on Youtube “Honest Coca-Cola Commercial” you will find that the first result is the fake version of this one, which has more than 6,279,845 as of June 6th, 2015, but you wont be able to find the original one. Instead of the one you are looking for you will find an official Coca-Cola ad that has nothing in relation to obesity in the 8th place of the same search. Finding relevant official posts from Coca-Cola was difficult; their campaign was soft and the negative response from the public through social-media much stronger. The question is: Should have Coca-Cola made a better effort to improve their strategy on Social Media or was this a too challenging topic to be handled on social-media?. My final thought is that they simply wanted to let it go. The negative response was much harder than what their approach could ever help to engage customers.

It is important to mention that Coca-Cola and Nestle are funding partners of the Epode-International network. The EPODE model is a unique strategy that brings together all sectors of the community – schools, family and public authorities – in an integrated approach to prevent childhood obesity at community level. None of this was shown in their social media channels, and I would question why they did not have a better official response to engage their followers to defend their point of view. CNN shows an interesting perspective about why they may have not been able to continue with their campaign.

But there is something they do very well…

Few of the positive aspects of their social-media strategy to engage customers in other topics non related to obesity is the short films that they have geared towards a teen crowd:

These short films are very engaging for teen crowds, easy to share on social-media and with relevant topics for teenagers, love, pregnancy, relationships.

Videos that bring together inclusion, passion for sports, smiles and community. This previous one recently t shared on their Facebook page and in few hours got already hundreds of likes on their Youtube channel which has more than half million followers.

Coca-Cola has also established a new system that allows customers with Android smartphones to buy a Coke – as well as rack up and redeem rewards points. This system allows customers to buy their drink with a single tap at vending machines across North America. By the end of 2015 there will be 100,000 pay-enabled machines to buy a coke.

In general their strategy on social-media to engage customers consists on longer videos that engage people on a long-term relationship, making them to reflect through short films, long videos, music and ideas that the human brain may captivate in a deeper way than shorter and more intense images. Reflecting about positive aspects of life and emotions is what they want you to do, associating that idea and relating that into their products.

Note: Before posting my article I requested some information to Coca-Cola to make this information as accurate as possible. Few days after I published my article I received a response from them and this is what they said:
Hi Fernando. Thanks for your interest in our Company. I wish we could share our strategies; however, in order for our company to remain competitive, we are unable to share that kind of proprietary information with the public.

Obesity is a serious, complex global health problem that requires the collective efforts of everyone – individuals, communities, businesses and governments – to solve. And that includes The Coca-Cola Company. We are doing our part to help develop workable solutions to address obesity – by partnering with government, academia, health societies, and other responsible members of civil society.

People consume many different foods and beverages, so no one single food or beverage alone is responsible for people being overweight or obese. But all calories count, whatever food or beverage they come from, including those from our caloric beverages.

There is widespread consensus that weight gain is primarily the result of an imbalance of energy, specifically too many calories consumed versus expended. We believe that all foods and beverages can have a place in an active healthy lifestyle that combines a sensible, balanced diet with regular physical activity.

Fernando, we’d like to refer you to the American Beverage Association (ABA) [ phone (202) 463-6732] or our Journey Website (<>; ) for additional information.

Best wishes!