Sugary Drink Can

Coca-Cola urged to slam the brakes on its Christmas truck

12 December 2018 

The 19 leading health and community organisations behind Rethink Sugary Drink are calling on Coca Cola to put an end to its Christmas truck tour; a shameless ploy to leverage Christmas joy for the purpose of marketing their sugary drinks to children and families putting profits above Australians’ health.

This month Coca-Cola began its ‘It Feels Good to Give’ Australian truck tour. In partnership with the Salvation Army, the truck will be giving away its products to people who visit any of the seven selected cities across the country.

 To coincide with the tour, Coca-Cola will roll out a digital advertisement which features a teenage boy learning about the joys of Christmas giving. The ad shows him handing out a bottle of Coke to a homeless man, only to later realise the homeless man is Santa himself. 

Alice Pryor, Campaign Manager at Parents’ Voice, said the Christmas truck is the worst gift Coca-Cola can give parents.  

“The truck is essentially a giant mobile billboard plugging Coke products. Parents already face a pester power battle every day. This campaign only makes parents’ attempts to protect their kids from unhealthy marketing harder than ever before,” Ms Pryor said.  

“It’s about time junk food and drink companies like Coca-Cola live up to their corporate social responsibility commitments and stop this blatant targeting of kids at Christmas.”  

A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch, a Rethink Sugary Drink partner, has seen the devastating impact sugary drinks have on children’s’ teeth and said Coke’s Christmas campaign irresponsibly plays on the vulnerability of young Australians.  

“Let’s not sugar coat it – Coca-Cola is strategically toying with our joyous, festive mood this holiday season,” A/Prof Hopcraft said. 

Nearly 50% of Australian children have tooth decay, and fizzy drinks are a major contributor of added sugar in their diets. 

“Extracting all 20 baby teeth from kids as young as 3 is not pretty. I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact tooth decay has on the health, nutrition, social and emotional wellbeing of these kids and their families,” A/Prof Hopcraft said. 

“At a time when tooth decay is one of the most prevalent global health problems affecting our children, there is no justification for Coca-Cola to run this campaign. These communities need support, not fizzy drinks. 

“Coca-Cola is blatantly trying to create a connection between their brand and Christmas among young people and families. If they really cared about Australians it would stop marketing to kids and allow them to grow up free of dental disease while at the same time altruistically support the community without it being a blatant branding exercise.” 

Case study: Nicole French available for interview 

Mother of two, Nicole French, is familiar with the pester power that comes as a result of the food industry manipulatively marketing unhealthy drinks to her children.  

“I know my kids would definitely be drawn to the big, red, flashing Coke Christmas truck if it stopped by our neighbourhood. Coca-Cola is playing on the magic of Christmas, making me the Grinch in my son’s Christmas story. My efforts to shape a healthy diet for my son are futile against the marketing manipulation of this sugary drink giant.”  

The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends the following actions in addition to the restriction of unhealthy drink marketing to tackle sugary drink consumption: 

  •  A public education campaign supported by Australian governments to highlight the health impacts of regular sugary drink consumption
  • Comprehensive mandatory restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages (and increased availability of free water) in schools, government institutions, children's sports and places frequented by children
  • Development of policies by state and local governments to reduce the availability of sugary drinks in workplaces, government institutions, health care settings, sport and recreation facilities and other public places.

About Rethink Sugary Drink: Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Australian Dental Association, Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Healthier Workplace WA, Kidney Health Australia, LiveLighter, The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, Stroke Foundation, Parents’ Voice, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the YMCA to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.

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