What do Coca-cola and tobacco have in common? Both are criticized for being detrimental to health, with Coca-cola being called out for contributing to the rise in obesity rates and tobacco for increasing the likelihood of contracting lung cancer. But despite their damaging health impact, both businesses are thriving. Tobacco is America’s most successful industry in terms of long run performance, according to Credit Suisse research report 2015 (Dimson et al., 2015) while Coca-Cola’s earnings are on the rise, having increased twenty percent in the second quarter of 2015, compared to a year ago (Athavaley & Swamynathan, 2015).
In his article "Food, marketing and choice", Robert Albritton attributes the success of the tobacco industry to its five step marketing strategy. First step is to cast doubt on proven probability; second, to divert attention away from their product onto other possible causes of health damage; third, to use lawyers to defend against litigation and block setting of bans, taxes and other form of government intervention which will hurt its sales; fourth, to bribe people to speak well of the industry; and fifth, to gain good public image through philanthropy (Albritton, 2009).
In this paper I investigate whether The Coca-Cola Company is utilizing the same five step marketing strategy to achieve its success.
Ever since obesity became one of the biggest health problems worldwide, people have been looking for the cause of this epidemic. A number of influential global reports, with a prominent one being Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases issued by the World Health Organisation in 2003, assert that sugared beverages play a key role in the etiology of obesity.
Hence in order to combat these scientific findings that link their beverages to obesity and other chronic diseases, the American Beverage Association (ABA), which is a trade association that represents Coke among other companies, casts doubt on the credibility of research papers that put their beverages in a negative light; the first step of the marketing strategy.
They do so by releasing press statements in response to these research papers. I have identified three main criticisms they constantly use in their press statements to undermine these research papers. ABA first points out the limitations of the papers, such as the lack of controls, failure to consider other factors, etc (American Beverage Association, 2015). Second, they make the argument that the studies do not show any definitive causal connection (American Beverage Association, 2015). Lastly, they would provide statistics and research findings from reputable sources, for example, government data that their beverages only contribute a mere six percent of calories in the average American diet in order to refute claims made in the papers (American Beverage Association, 2015). These press statements are not just made available for the public to view, but are strategically placed in the middle...