When ‘green-washing’ and ‘health-washing’ collide

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In Argentina, the Coca-Cola Company has launched a new product variant Coca-Cola Life which contains the natural low-cal sweetener stevia.

As a marketer I do find this interesting. It’s a great example of product innovation by one of the largest brands in the world. It appears to be the first new ‘healthier’ Coke variant since the company started rolling out a campaign talking about its ‘commitment’ to helping fight obesity.

On the other hand I do feel a little sceptical. Is their motivation to reduce obesity, or protect sales and profits? Undoubtedly it’s a bit of both, although it’s questionable as to what has higher priority. In creating Coca-Cola Life they have created a product may actually be ‘healthier’ that the other variants of Coke on the market, but could it actually be classed as ‘healthy’ as the marketing suggests? The green label also nods to it being more natural and with packaging made from 30% plant-based material.

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In my mind ‘stevia’ is the new ‘quinoa’ – an ancient plant rediscovered for health qualities and then made trendy through clever marketing.  On the environmental front, 30% plant-based bottles is a step in the right direction but it still contains 70% fossil-fuel derived plastic.

Quite simply Coca-Cola Life is a textbook case of green-washing and health-washing combined in one campaign. I am intrigued to see how this goes for them. With the marketing dollars invested, I am sure it will do well in the short-term.

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