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.

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