Coca-Cola Launches Anti-Obesity Ads in U.K.

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Coca-Cola is getting more serious about its anti-obesity efforts, and the U.K. is the newest market on the receiving end. Coke began airing ads about “energy balance” and calorie content in Great Britain last evening and, among other steps, has replaced Sprite across the country with a new reduced-calorie version of Sprite that is sweetened by Stevia.

The actions, of course, follow on the advertising that Atlanta-based Coke aired in the U.S. earlier this year as part of its campaign to get consumers to “Be OK” with the simple equation that weight loss or gain is determined by calories consumed plus physical activity.

In Coke’s first spot on U.K. television on Wednesday, titled “Coming Together,” the company reminded viewers “that all calories count in managing weight, including those in Coca-Cola’s products and brands,” as the company said on its Web site.

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A second spot, under the “Be OK” rubric as in the United States, gave information on the number of calories in a can of Coke and about how much physical activity is necessary to burn up those calories. It also highlighted no-calorie Coca-Cola Zero.

Coca-Cola also collaborated with Channel 4 in the U.K. to create an exclusive 20-second teaser ad that premiered last Friday before the new Diet Coke “Hunk” 60-second ad broke on the air, celebrating the brand’s 30th anniversary in Great Britain with a return to the iconic advertising theme from the 90s.

“Obesity is a serious problem and I am determined we will take more actions in Europe to help address it,” James Quincey, president of Coke’s Europe Group, said in the statement.

Still, PepsiCo released the first stevia-sweetened mainstream beverage last spring, a version of SoBe V Water. Coke said it is replacing Sprite in the U.K. completely with the Stevia-sweetened version and that Sprite Zero, without any calories, will also be available.

Coke has been experimenting with reduced-calorie versions of Sprite and Fanta that use Stevia in select U.S. markets since last summer, the Associated Press said. Stevia extract is made from a bush that is native to South America. While its natural source, minimal calories and potent sweetness have become very useful to food and beverage makers around the world, it has remained a challenge to product formulators to cover up the substance’s bitter aftertaste in some drinks.

Your move, Pepsi.

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