The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has pulled up the world's leading beverage maker, Coca-Cola for releasing its "Motherhood & Myth-Busting" advertisement that says its soft drink is 'baby safe.'
Using the motherly image of Australian film actress, Kerry Armstrong in its full-page advertisements in Australian newspapers, Coca Cola claimed that its soft drink was "kiddy-safe" since it did not contain excess caffeine and contained the same amount of caffeine as tea, did not make children fat and was not the cause for rotting teeth among children.
The advertisement, aimed at convincing parents about the virtues of having its soft drink, raised country-wide protest and uproar from parents, health groups and critics, who slammed the advertisement as grossly misleading.
One Australian mother said that Coca-Cola was suggesting that that it was okay for parents to include Coke in the everyday diet of children.
On 11 October 2008, Coca Cola took out full-page advertisement in leading Australian newspapers featuring Kerry Armstrong on motherhood and the various 'myths of Coca-Cola.'
What rankled every parent in Australia was the beverage makers claim about 'myths of Coca Cola' in the advertisement,stating:
It is a myth that Coca-Cola:
- Makes you fat
- Rots your teeth
- Packed with caffeine
To make matters worse, Coca-Cola reinforced the message by releasing another advertisement on 18 October 2008, targeting all its customers that said: ''We felt it was time to state the facts and to help you understand the truth behind Coca-Cola."
After the huge public outcry, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission took up the issue and after conducting an inquiry said that Coca Cola's advertisements had the potential of misleading parents, since they have a major say in their child's nutrition.
"Coke's messages were totally unacceptable, creating an impression, which is likely to mislead that Coca-Cola cannot contribute to weight gain, obesity and tooth decay," the commission said in a statement. "They also had the potential to mislead parents about the potential consequences of consuming Coca Cola.
The ACCC has now ordered Coca-Cola to publish corrective advertisements in all leading Australian newspapers as well on the company's website.
In its new ads, Coca-Cola says that no single food or beverage alone is responsible for putting on weight, Coca-Cola also contains sugar and food acid, which can cause tooth decay and corrected its statement that a 250-milliliter Diet Coca-Cola contains half the amount of caffeine in tea.
Kerry Armstrong said in a message that as a mum, she was often bombarded with conflicting messages about food and drinks as an advertisement would say something is good for you and the next day another advertisement would contradict and say it is bad.
Her message read, "As parents we need to be aware of the challenges that modern living presents us, but as long as we continue to try to be well informed then we can make better choices for our families and ourselves."