E-poster Presentation 2014 World Cancer Congress

Harnessing Coalitions to Counter Food Industry Solutions – the Coca Cola Journey (#1066)

Jane Martin 1 , Rebecca Cook 2
  1. Obesity Policy Coalition, Carlton, VIC, Australia
  2. Prevention Division, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Background and Context:

Sugary drinks have been recognised by major public health organisations worldwide as contributing to overweight and obesity. As a result of this the beverage industry has responded in a range of ways. For example: engaging in research to deflect the focus, funding public health and community organisations; participating in nutrition organisations and sponsoring their conferences, and embarking on campaigns to address community concerns around obesity.

Aim: This campaign aimed to expose and challenge the industry's initiative acknowledging that they have a role to play in the obesity problem and placing themselves as 'part of the solution'.

Public health and consumer groups have the potential to band together to reduce consumption of sugar sweetened drinks, as well as to counter the type of campaigns run by Coca Cola placing the companies as part of the solution.


In Australia a number of organisations collaborated on a Rethink Sugary Drink campaign using reworked ads from New York City campaign, Pouring on the Pounds. The aim was to highlight the publich heath issues with sugary drinks, reduce consumption and encourage the adoption of policies in a range of settings including workplaces, schools and homes. This was undertaken on a shoestring budget and with a strong social media component. It also led to collaboration to counter Coca Cola’s actions as part of their journey to address obesity.

Programme/Policy Process:

This presentation will outline how public health groups worked in a coalition to undertake a low budget public education campaign around sugary drinks and then leveraged this partnership to counter Coca Cola’s Journey campaign. This included the development of counteradvertising to challenge Coke's suite of solutions. 

Outcomes/What was learned:

This advocacy, including in the media, enabled critical examination of the motives of the companies behind the campaigns as well as the efficacy of the initiatives proposed.