Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You Decide - Philanthropy or Marketing, Coca Cola Kids Edition.

Or both?

And does the food industry's efforts at philanthropic "goodness" trump those very same efforts' marketing and health "badness"?

I imagine it'll depend on the program.

Today I want you to consider Coca-Cola's involvement with Breakfast Clubs of Canada. Breakfast Clubs is a national non-profit dedicated to providing services and funding school breakfast programs.

Breakfast Clubs' fundraising regularly includes corporate sponsors and I was sent this video about Coca-Cola's involvement by someone who felt very strongly that Coca-Cola's impact was positive, not negative.

Email subscribers, to watch the video (which I strongly encourage), you'll need to visit the blog itself and I'll embed it here:

What the video very clearly demonstrates is that Coca-Cola's involvement includes the provision of Coca Cola Co.'s Minute Maid orange juice. Breakfast Clubs of Canada President Daniel Germain states,
"We needed Minute Maid to make sure that our breakfast program was meeting the level of nutrition"
And of course every kid's breakfast will therefore include a glass of OJ, and from what I can gather, Coca-Cola's contribution isn't monetary, it's solely product.

So is OJ a healthy choice?

I sure don't think so. And mine isn't a weight related concern, it's a product based concern.  Sugar water's not healthy for anyone regardless of whether or not that sugar water contains Vitamin C.  The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends we limit kids' juice to a maximal 1/2 a cup per day, and tellingly, they place no limits on actual oranges.

And what's in it for Coca Cola? The chance to build lifelong Minute Maid drinkers, and perhaps more importantly lifelong Minute Maid drinkers who believe wholeheartedly that juice is a fruit equivalent.  Moreover their involvement undoubtedly also leads to schools, trusted learning institutions, to literally teach children that juice as a healthy choice - a message that's very clearly being promoted to their benefit by their partner, Breakfast Clubs of Canada in the video up above.

So should Coca Cola be commended for charitably serving 119,000 glasses of orange juice to kids daily, or is this just plain, old, marketing?

I'm guessing you know what I think. Would love to hear from you.