Coke ad banned for misleading exercise claims

Coca-Cola has had an ad banned for misleading consumers about the amount of physical activity they would need to do in order to burn off the calories in a can of the drink.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has clamped down on the soft drinks firm for a 30-second ad that led consumers to believe 75 seconds of "laughing out loud" could burn off 139 calories.

Coca-Cola has criticised the ASA’s ruling by pointing out only ten people contacted the ad watchdog about the ad despite it reaching an audience of 39 million people.

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said: "The advert was intended to explain how people can help manage their energy balance by actively burning off calories consumed. Given the growing problem of obesity, we believe it is important for more people to understand this information.

"Raising awareness of energy balance is part of our global commitment to help tackle obesity and we will continue to use our advertising to address it."

Viewers objected to the ad that featured a picture of a Coca-Cola can alongside text stating "= 139 Happy Calories", followed by a series of activities and on-screen text describing activities with messages such as "10 minutes of letting your body do the talking +" and "75 seconds of laughing out loud +".

The ASA decided to ban the ad after ruling creative was ambiguous and did not clearly communicate to all viewers that it was a combination of all the activities depicted that would burn off 139 calories.

Coca-Cola managed to escape a further reprimand from the ASA over viewer complaints that the 30-second ad and a separate 120-second ad implied a general health claim.

The ASA accepted the 30-second spot was presenting general information about the calorie content of its drinks rather than making health claims about the products featured in the ad.

Another viewer complained a 120-second TV ad that described Coca-Cola’s ongoing commitment to tackling obesity was also guilty of implying a general health claim.

The ASA accepted the ad presented factual information about the brand and health issues, but did not consider the claims implied a general health claim for particular products featured in the TV ad.

Separately, an ad for Diet Coke that showed a woman rolling a can down a hill to a man operating a lawn mower escaped a ban after a viewer complained it was likely to "condone or encourage behaviour that prejudiced health or safety". 

In March this year, Coke ran two TV ad campaigns aimed at highlighting its efforts to combat obesity.

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