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Coca Cola came out of the closet recently with an advertisement that acknowledged the connection between sugary drinks and obesity. Among other things the ad talks about drinking smaller portions and taking exercise.

There has been an angry backlash from some quarters, saying that the ad is wrong to put the responsibility on the customer when the problem lies with the product. For instance, Medill Management School at Chicago’s Northwestern University reports:
“Coke, like other companies, is in the crosshairs,” said Jeff Cronin, director of communications at the Center for Science in the Public Interest…No matter how much water, juice or seltzer is in their portfolio,” Cronin said, “the core of their business is selling full-calorie Coke.”

But this seems rather counter-productive. When a misbehaving child begins to acknowledge his responsibilities and offers to change his ways, sensible adults don’t reprimand him for not becoming a model citizen overnight. They praise and reward his improved attitude and encourage him to keep going.

Coke has admitted that their product causes health problems – and that, in itself, is a huge first step. They have added that they are cutting portion sizes, adding healthier drinks to their range and beginning to work with customers on improving their health. Hence the name of the campaign, which is “Coming Together.”

Perhaps one day Coke will evolve into a company that provides pro-biotic health drinks and free nutrition advice to schools – but this won’t even start if we hit them on the nose with a baseball bat every time they poke its tip out of the closet door.

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