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UK: Coca-Cola to replace full sugar Sprite with calorie-reduced stevia-sweetened version

In early 2009 Coca-Cola rolled out Sprite Green, its first drinks brand using Truvia sweetener, in the UK, as an extension to the main brand. According to Marketing Magazine, Sprite is the UK’s seventh-biggest-selling carbonated soft drink.

Aside from the new-recipe Sprite, Coca-Cola’s new actions are focused on the following three areas:

  1. Giving people simple and clear information about the calorie content of its drinks
  2. Encouraging people to get active and take part in regular physical exercise
  3. Continuing to offer people more choice in what they drink and raising awareness of low and no calorie alternatives

The first step involves the launch of a series of new adverts in the UK.”>A two minute video, titled “Coming Together”, aired on ITV and Channel 4 reminds viewers that all calories count in managing weight, including those in Coca-Cola’s products and brands.

It was followed by a second spot, “Be OK”, which aired later in the evening. “Be OK” gives clear information on the number of calories in a can of Coca-Cola and how much physical activity we need to do to burn those calories up. The advert also highlights no-calorie alternative, Coca-Cola Zero, for those who want the great Coca-Cola taste without the calories. 

The videos form part of a global advertising campaign launched by The Coca-Cola Company earlier this year, aimed at explaining the importance of ‘energy balance’ to manage weight. In the UK, “Coming Together” and “Be OK” will be supported by advertising in print media, and further TV advertisements will follow in the UK over the course of the coming year.

The company also announced it was taking further action to implement the commitments made 11 months ago as part of the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal Calorie Reduction Pledge, to which Coca-Cola was an early signatory.

These include:

  • The launch of the new, reduced calorie Sprite in the UK from March 2013.
  • New Coca-Cola Zero advertisements: Coca-Cola will launch new Coca-Cola Zero advertising in April. The advert will continue to build consumer awareness of Coca-Cola Zero’s great Coke taste, zero sugar, no calorie message. Over 45% of the Coca-Cola sold in the UK is Coca-Cola Zero or Diet Coke.
  • The announcement of a renewed three-year partnership with UK charity StreetGames, to 2015, which continues the company’s commitment to deliver a lasting legacy of grassroots sports participation following the London 2012 Olympic Games. Since 2010, Coca-Cola Great Britain’s partnership with StreetGames has helped more than 110,000 young people from some of the most disadvantaged areas in the country access sports on their doorstep.

James Quincey, President Europe Group, The Coca-Cola Company said: “Obesity is a serious problem and I am determined we will take more actions in Europe to help address it. The actions announced today build on our earlier efforts and are part of a long-term commitment.”

The actions announced build on Coca-Cola Great Britain’s existing commitments in this area.

Bob-MessengerCOMMENT: The War on Sugar: Is Coke ditching of sugary Sprite in UK for stevia makeover a sign?

“Look, what’s going down in the UK is a big deal, the news that Coca-Cola is removing sugar from its ‘regular’ version of Sprite soda and replacing it with the ‘natural’ sweetener Stevia. I know a few Sprite fans here in the states who might go ballistic if Coke tried that here. And yet, that might be exactly what’s coming.

“C’mon, it’s clear that Coca-Cola and other beverage players are facing enormous pressure from global groups and governments to stop with the sugary drink stuff and start taking a stand against obesity. There are proposals here and around the world plotting taxes and bans against products produced by Coke.

“The fact is, many in the consumer and political activist community point to Coca-Cola Co. as chief among perpetrators who have helped to fatten-up America. This tsunami of blame is rolling towards Atlanta and Coca-Cola’s decision to dump ‘Full Fat’ Sprite in the UK is an amazing recognition by the company that it might be losing the battle waged against it in the War on Sugar.
“It’s just one brand, Sprite, and its not cola, so it’s probably not time for soda lovers to freak out. But the UK Sprite-Stevia makeover may well be a harbinger of what’s to come in the beverage aisle.”

Bob Messenger, Editor, The Morning Cup, foremost US food industry commentator

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