This Christmas, Coca-Cola's "Happy Holidays" truck visited five locations in north west
England in the first week of December 2016 and received substantial coverage
in the major local newspapers in Liverpool and Manchester.
Visitors could have their photo taken with the vehicle while being
given free product (including a 150 ml can of standard Coca-Cola
containing 15.9 g of sugar - nearly four teaspoons).
‘Coca-Cola's "Happy Holidays" truck tour should be banned, given the growing evidence of the effect that marketing of unhealthy food and drink has on children.’
growing evidence of the effect that marketing of unhealthy food and
drink has on children, public health experts have called for a ban on the Coca-Cola's "Happy Holidays" truck tour.
In 2018, the UK government will introduce an industry levy on full sugar soft drinks as part of its childhood obesity strategy.
But Robin Ireland, Director of Food Active - a campaign based in
north west England to tackle increasing obesity levels - points out that
34% of 10 to 11 year olds in the north west are overweight or obese.
Further 33% of five year olds have tooth decay, largely down to their
consumption of sugary drinks.
Many public health departments have launched campaigns about sugary
drinks to try to help their communities reduce their consumption, so
Coca-Cola's campaign was scarcely welcomed by local directors of public
health, medical professionals, educationalists, or indeed members of the
public, he adds.
Such was their concern that Food Active organized a letter stating
"We can celebrate without allowing Coca-Cola to hijack Christmas by
bringing false gifts of bad teeth and weight problems to our children."
The 108 signatories included five public health directors and the current and past presidents of the Faculty of Public Health.
The letter received no coverage in either Liverpool or Manchester.
"It is of huge concern that no alternative views were provided in
the face of a concerted commercial marketing campaign by Coca-Cola,
writes Ireland. "Apparently Coca-Cola's voice counts more than those of
directors of public health."
He believes that this form of advertising and marketing should be
banned and will continue to push for national action to stop similar
campaigns next Christmas.