Change4Life drafts Coke for sugar reduction push

The Government’s Change4Life anti-obesity initiative returns today (5 January) for its annual New Year push and again highlights the amount of sugar contained in fizzy drinks. But despite the tone of the campaign and claims last year’s drive hit sales of full-sugar drinks, Change4Life has attracted the sector’s biggest player, Coca Cola, to take part in the activity for the first time.

The 2015 Change4Life campaign features two M&C Saatchi-created TV spots. One that highlights the amount of sugar contained in a typical full sugar can or bottle of a carbonated drink and their impact on obesity and another that widens the theme to focus on the accumulation of sugar intake throughout the day – from sugary cereals to biscuit snacking.

Both highlight the “smart swaps” available to families. Public Health England (PHE) has partnered with supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Co-op Food who will run point of sale activity offering shoppers “healthy swaps” – money-off vouchers to entice people to switch from sugary cereal to plain cereal, muffin to fruited teacake and sugary drinks to sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks, for example.

Coca-Cola is taking part in the initiative for the first time, offering Coke Zero and Diet Coke as an alternative to the full-sugar drinks in its portfolio.

Last year’s focus on soft drinks drew criticism from the British Soft Drinks Association. The BSDA complained that the campaign too “heavily targeted” soft drinks’ role in obesity, claiming they provided just 2% of the calories in the average diet of a UK adult.

The January campaign appeared to resonate. PHE said in July  there was an initial 8% drop in sales following launch of the campaign before settling at 5% to May

Sheila Mitchell, marketing director of PHE told Marketing Week: “There’s a shift in us working with organisations like Coca-Cola. As long as they can offer us a product that can add value, that’s fine.”

It is the latest move by Coca-Cola to highlight the range of products in its portfolio. Throughout 2014, the soft drinks giant ran campaigns and initiatives highlighting its low and no sugar brands as consumers’ demand for healthier options increased.

Today (5 January) Coke is running print ads detailing its low and no sugar options using the line “Happiness comes in many forms, so does Coca-Cola”.

Meanwhile, some of the supermarkets talking part in the Change4Life drive are to fund their own campaigns under the Change4Life umbrella. Tesco, for example, will run ads declaring “together we can cut back on sugar” while highlighting its move to remove confectionary from checkouts, which came into effect 1 January.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here