The Power of Evil Abroad in the World

The Annoying Distraction of “Evil” Beverage Companies

Coke has a new CEO and a new corporate strategy that seems like it’s starting to work. You can find the essence of it in Coke’s new image advertising. Maybe the company that taught the world to sing is starting to shed some of the reputation issues that have dogged it for years now.

A Sliding Brand Image

Before Coke found itself in the crosshairs of obesity prevention crusaders,  McDonald’s was there. The folks from the golden arches protested. They even mounted an ad campaign in 2005, trying to point the finger of obesity blame elsewhere. “It’s what I eat and what I do” was a disastrous campaign they scrapped by 2008. McDonald’s dropped the blame game and moved on to focus on food quality and transparency in its image advertising. Overall, McDonald’s strategy is working.

So the torch soon passed from McDonald’s to Coke. Sugary beverages became a toxic threat and Coke was on the defensive. Coke remained one of the most valuable brands in the world. But its value slipped, while McDonald’s grew.

A Simple Story of Good and Evil

Are these battles with food and beverage industry giants helpful? Maybe. Perhaps they make the industry pay attention to issues of corporate responsibility. Supersizing and two-liter sodas are out. Attention to portion sizes is in.

But in many ways those battles are distractions. They sell a misleading story about obesity as a simple choice between good and evil. Unfortunately, the real story is not so simple. It might be better to blame Coke than to blame people with obesity. But it’s not any more honest.

Spending time on simplistic stories like this is more appealing than actually grappling with the complexity of obesity. Until we fully confront the complexity of obesity, though, we will never overcome it.

That’s why, ultimately, those “evil” beverage companies are just an annoying distraction.

For more on Coke’s new advertising strategy, click here. You can find more on their latest business results here.

The Power of Evil Abroad in the World, painting by John Duncan / WikiArt

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October 26, 2017