Coke Sales Bubble Up As Company Repositions Diet Sodas as "Healthy": Atlanta Journal-Constitution Article Also Quotes
Posted Dec 18 2008 8:11pm
The talented, objective, business reporter Duane D. Stanford of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution offers a thoughtful glimpse at Coca-Cola and discusses its new promotional tactics, which apparently have paid off for the company, whose globalsoft drink sales grew faster last year than they have since 1998 -- this despite falling sales in the U.S.
Duane also explains how the company is now positioning soft drinks as "healthy." (Read on to see my shocked comments about this new wildly creative marketing approach.)
Perhaps because of the fact that I'm a trained journalist, I do respect Duane's measured approach to the subject when he writes:
"To, sell even more sodas, [CEO Neville] Isdell is pushing back against the stigma surrounding carbonated soft drinks, escalated in part by a debate over childhood obesity. He told stock analysts at a recent convention in Scottsdale, Ariz., that he wants to reframe what defines the category. His argument: The decision to drink a diet soda also can be a health-conscious choice."
Health-conscious? Oh please. But back to Duane's more objective assessment:
The reporter also reveals that:
Coke plans to unveil a new vitamin-enhanced diet soda, called Diet Coke Plus.
The company began "dropping the term `carbonated soft drink' from its communications last month in favor of the term `sparkling beverages.'"
I'm sorry, but I think "sparkling" is applies only to the bottled water I had at dinner tonight, not soda.
Duane then covers the other side of the issue, which is where my point of view belongs.
He says that:
"Coke's effort to refresh the image of carbonated soft drinks as healthy has been panned by some, who say it's just window dressing."
Then come my remarks:
"I think it's really laughable to try to pass off diet drinks as healthy," said Connie Bennett, author of the book "Sugar Shock," which details health risks of sugary foods and beverages. "They sell water. Why don't they just market that more."
Duane pretty well captured my sentiments.
He also brings up another valid point, which is that:
"Some consumers also "worry about artificial sweeteners in diet drinks, in part because of studies suggesting links between the sweeteners and cancer and other illnesses. The federal government, which regulates artificial sweeteners, has said there is no clear evidence of such links."
You know, despite the fact that I consider diet drinks anything but healthy, you really have to almost grudgingly admire these absolutely outlandish marketing tactics -- which clearly have been designed to make a buck.
I sure hope no one falls for this absurd concept. Diet drinks are not healthy. End of the story.