Coca-cola takes out Shame awards for marketing to children

Coca-Cola took out two categories in the Shame awards for marketing unhealthy food and drinks to children.
Coca-Cola took out two categories in the Shame awards for marketing unhealthy food and drinks to children.  Photo: YouTube

Coca-Cola Australia is one of the worst offenders when it comes to marketing unhealthy food and drink to children, according to the results of the 2016 Parents' Voice Fame and Shame Awards.

Taking out two of the three Shame categories, Coca-Cola Australia beat McDonald's Australia with two of their popular drinks campaigns criticised by parents. 

"Parents are concerned that Coca-Cola Australia is continuing to develop marketing techniques that target children," said Alice Pryor, Campaigns Manager for Parents' Voice, an online network of parents interested in improving the food and activity environments of Australian kids. 

Held on Monday 5 December, the Fame and Shame Awards aim to raise awareness of the persuasive and misleading tactics advertisers use to target young consumers. The awards also commend brands that are getting it right – highlighting advertisements promoting healthy food to children in a "fun and appealing way".

Coca Cola's "Brotherly Love" television commercial took out a Shame award for Pester Power – a category spotlighting the use of techniques that appeal to children, leading them to "nag" their parents for unhealthy food.

Coca-Cola was shamed once again in the Foul Sport category, this time for their Powerade Ion4 Hydrating our Olympians Campaign, featuring NBA star Andrew Bogut. The Foul Sport category highlights brands using sport to promote unhealthy food and drinks to children. Coca Cola's ad was slammed for its misleading message that consuming unhealthy products is aligned with sporting success and a healthy lifestyle.

"Parents are not happy that Australian sport is dominated by junk food and sugary drink advertising," said Pryor in statement. "Watching sport, and in this case the Rio Olympics, as a family, should be a time free from unhealthy influences." 

Nestlè won the final Shame category picking up the Digital Ninja award for the brand that used digital media in the most obvious way to target children. Their MILO champions band, aimed at children aged 6 – 12, was criticised for promoting MILO as a healthy choice, despite being almost 50 per cent sugar.


Thankfully, it's not all bad news, however. Woolworths took out the Parents' Choice: Food trophy for their Free Fruit for Kids campaign with Jamie Oliver.

Wendy Watson, Nutrition Program Manager at Cancer Council NSW, are a key partner in the awards, said the program and the commercial were popular with parents.

"With 1 in 4 Australian children overweight or obese, it's good to see a major supermarket chain leading the way to counter pester power by providing a healthy option for kids while mum or dad does the shopping," she said.

The Australian Government's Girls Make Your Move campaign, which was designed to inspire, energise and empower young woman to become more active, took out the inaugural Parents' Choice award for Physical Activity. 

For Mum, Charlie Daley, the ad certainly had her vote. "As children get older it can become more difficult to keep them moving," she said. "This campaign reminds girls that physical activity and sport are fun and social."

Reflecting on the outcome of the 2016 awards, Pryor noted that while having two fame categories and so many nominations was a positive step, "shame awards and nominations still outweigh them."

She said, "It is encouraging to see more debate about the wider concerns of junk food marketing to children and its association with a rise in the consumption of unhealthy food and drink. More information and media coverage of the issues helps to equip parents with the facts, see beyond the hype, and call for better regulatory guidelines and protection for their children."

Parents' Voice members nominate examples of the best and worst campaigns throughout the year, casting their vote from the shortlist to determine the winner.  

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