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Coca-Cola Carefully Navigates Anti-Obesity Messaging as it Combats Falling Sales

Posted by Dale Buss on September 23, 2013 01:36 PM

While Coca-Cola has never acknolwedged being part of the problem of rising worldwide obesity, it sure is working hard at being part of the solution.

The beverage giant noted today—in a new TV commercial and with a press release—its vast efforts to get people moving during a summer of initiatives linked to a series of grassroots events it kicked off in May, called the Get the Ball Rolling initiative. It extended a broad effort that Coke kicked off in January with a commercial playing down its role in promoting obesity and encouraging physical activity as the most important antidoate to the problem.

Nutritionists are united in believing that caloric inputs are far more important in determining obesity than lack of physical activity per se. But moving around clearly helps offset too much intake, especially in children, so Coca-Cola has focused its Get the Ball Rolling initiatives on kids. Those efforts are highlighted in the new TV ad.Continue reading...

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Responding to Diet Coke's Sales Slide, Coke Reassures Safety of Aspartame

Posted by Dale Buss on August 15, 2013 10:47 AM

Coca-Cola continues to adjust its defensive crouch with the publication of a new ad meant to shore up consumer confidence in the artificial sweeteners in its diet drinks.

Regular Coke sales were down by 2 percent in the first half, continuing a long slide. But it turns out that it's not just sugary soft drinks Americans are growing uncomfortable about; it's diet drinks as well. Though switching to Diet Coke is a typical gambit by those who want fewer calories but don't want to give up Coca-Cola altogether, sales of the company's diet sodas actually fell 6 percent by volume during the first half, three times the rate of decline for its regular drinks.

Coke's research determined that consumer hesitance over aspartame, the sweetener in Diet Coke, is largely to blame even though the chemical sweetener has been around for decades. Still, Nutritionists and consumer advocates are raising doubts about the long-term effects of aspartame.Continue reading...

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Taco Bell Drops Kids' Meals as it Looks to Corner Millennial Market

Posted by Dale Buss on July 23, 2013 01:47 PM

Maybe we should have seen it coming when, in its most recent Super Bowl commercial, Taco Bell celebrated a bunch of old geezers' night on the town. Or maybe it was evident in the brand's years and years of incessant messaging to teenage males.

In any event, it's hardly a surprise that Taco Bell is dumping its kids' meals so that it can focus even more on the maws and fast-food needs of the vital Millennial demographic. It's actually a bit more jarring that other QSR brands are undercutting their own kids'-marketing efforts by sending their well-known mascots—including the Colonel—the way of the dinosaur.

Yum! Brands-owned Taco Bell plans to drop kids meals and toys at all of its US restaurants by around January, USA Today reported. "The future of Taco Bell is not about kids' meals," Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed told the newspaper. "This is about positioning the brand for Millennials."Continue reading...

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Coke Goes Back to the Future for Some of Its Packaging—and Its Rhetoric

Posted by Dale Buss on June 25, 2013 01:42 PM

Coca-Cola is going back to the future in more ways than one—glass packaging is returning, and so is an attitude about Coke's role in the world.

Coke is a big participant in the return of glass bottles to the soda-packaging market. In an effort to proliferate the selection of packaging types and sizes for ever-pickier consumers around the globe, the company has helped make sales-growth rates in glass bottles outpace those of soda in much more common plastic bottles and aluminum cans, according to Nielsen per the Wall Street Journal. However, even in comeback mode, glass still accounts for just 2 percent of the $21 billion in US soft-drink sales tracked by Nielsen.

While PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group also are participating in a trend spurred by a cool factor for younger consumers, nostalgia for older consumers and the fact that they can be sold at a higher profit margin, it's Coke—whose original glass bottle for Coca-Cola became one of the world's most iconic forms of packaging—whose moves have been most interesting.Continue reading...

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Coming Soon to Starbucks: Latte with a Splash of (Government-Influenced) Guilt

Posted by Dale Buss on June 18, 2013 03:41 PM

Starbucks customers will still be able to order all of their favorite high-fat, sugary concoctions at their favorite coffee house. It's just that they won't be able to plead ignorance anymore to just how many calories are in that Venti Caramel Macchiato or luscious chocolate brownie.

The company said it will become the latest restaurant chain to put up calorie boards at its locations across the United States, jumping ahead of a US-government mandate under Obamacare that's expected to require bigger chains to make similar disclosures nationwide by the end of the year. New York and California already require nutrition boards.

Starbucks also will post calorie counts on the goodies in the pastry case. "Menu labeling is yet another step to extend our commitment to wellness, ensuring our current customers and partners (employees) have the information they need to make informed decisions and understand all the ways that they can customize their Starbucks beverages to be within their desired calorie range," stated Mary Wagner, SVP of global research and development for Starbucks.Continue reading...

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Coca-Cola Pledges To Cut Ads to Kids, Display More Calorie Information

Posted by Dale Buss on May 9, 2013 09:47 AM

Coca-Cola broadened its pledges to provide more calorie information to consumers and to stop advertising to children around the world, but the media was quick to scour the fine print of the company's promises as the beverage leader tries to win over consumers. 

CEO Muhtar Kent announced on Wednesday, the brand's 127th anniversary, that the company was taking a four-pronged approach to battling obesity, an issue that it has acknowledged lately in many ways but at the same time has attempted to deflect blame from its iconic sugary sodas.

As part of an initiative it's calling Coming Together, Coca-Cola wants to communicate that it's part of the solution, not the problem. The beverage giant and its local partners will label all packages with calorie details on the front, expand the availability of low- and no-calorie beverages in every market, support more physical activity programs, and stop advertising to children under 12.Continue reading...

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Brazilian Regulators Fine McDonald's for Targeting Children with Happy Meals

Posted by Dale Buss on April 25, 2013 10:30 AM

The fight against childhood obesity is a global one, and McDonald's is being reminded of that fact by a surprising fine by a Brazilian consumer-protection agency over the chain's promotion of its Happy Meals.

It seems that Procon, an agency in Sao Paolo, didn't appreciate McDonald's 2010 promotion of Happy Meals that leveraged toys from the movie Avatar as well as a local television series, according to a lawyer for Procon who talked with Reuters. "This is not an isolated case," he told the news service. "There's no need to appeal as they do to children without the maturity or rationality to enter the market as consumers."

The lawyer, of course, forgot to mention "parents," who are supposed to provide the "maturity" and "rationality" to supervise their children. But such trivialities haven't made much of a difference in do-gooders' global attacks on McDonald's for offering food that parents want to buy for their children, including Happy Meals.Continue reading...

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LYFE Kitchen, Clover Compete in QSR Race for Healthy Millennials

Posted by Dale Buss on April 16, 2013 02:24 PM

Thanks to the efforts of a handful of entrepreneurs, American fast food is moving from a form of nutritional epithet to add an entirely new dimension: a fledgling business model that uses the quick-serve platform to get better-for-you fare into the mouths of more willing consumers.

At the same time, not to be outdone, traditional fast-food chains are tacking heavily into more nutritional fare after several years of more or less playing at it. Taco Bell, for instance, has just announced its strategy to offer healthier menu options, while McDonald's is veering more deeply into wraps.

LYFE Kitchen is probably the best known of the cluster of promising better-for-you startups which also includes Clover, Veggie Grill, Tender Greens and Native Foods Cafe. New York Times Magazine writer Mark Bittman chronicled some of what these brands are doing.

"After the success of companies like Whole Foods [and] Annie's and Kashi, there's now a market for a a fast-food chain that's not only healthful itself, but vegetarian-friendly, sustainable and even humane," he wrote. "And, this being fast food: cheap.Continue reading...

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