Pepsi to restrict caloric beverages in schools, but will Coke?

Over the past few years, many issues about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating right have become a concern across America, especially for children. Recently. Michelle Obama launched a nationwide campaign to fight childhood obesity called the “Anti-Childhood Obesity Initiative.” One of her goals is to help promote child health in schools that contain vending machines filled with soda and candy (according to the campaign).

Interestingly enough, as I am sure many of you have heard in the news over the past week, PepsiCo announced (March 16, 2010) in a press release that they are “voluntarily adopting a new global policy to stop sales of full-sugar soft drinks to primary and secondary schools by 2012.” PepsiCo plans to promote health for their students by declining the  distribution of sugary and caloric beverages worldwide as well as working with local venders, parents and the local communities.

Courtesy Google Images

Courtesy Google Images

With the combination of one of the nation’s largest brands/industries and Michelle Obama’s initiative, this problem may be solved successfully worldwide. It has already been proven that schools are in compliance with PepsiCo and the promotion of healthier beverages for children, but what about Pepsi’s leading competitor Coca-Cola?

According to NPR, in 2006, Pepsi and Coke adopted guidelines for the National Beverage Association based on what drinks would be allowed in Elementary, Middle and High Schools. This was effective in lowering the calorie intake from beverages for children in schools, however it was limited to only U.S. schools. Although Coke was involved with these strict guidelines, the company’s plan for global restrictions are not as “wide-reaching” as Pepsi’s new announced initiative.

This leaves me with the question, do you think the PR professionals  for Coca-Cola are doing the right thing by separating themselves from the PepsiCo initiative? The recent Coca-Cola  policy document states that their products will not be offered in primary schools, but they will be offered in secondary schools. The two companies obviously have different marketing strategies to promote healthy living for children, but do you think Pepsi has raised the bar with their campaign? Could this leave Coca-Cola susceptible to parental and community pressure to eliminate their products from not only primary, but  secondary schools as well? (As PepsiCo plans to do). Could this also cause bad publicity for Coca-Cola in which their PR must implement tactics t to uphold consumer loyalty for the popular product?

Personally, I feel that Coca-Cola should collaborate with PepsiCo for this good cause and help promote child health in schools worldwide. I think PepsiCo has created a timely and important incentive for people to be aware that by simply eliminating soda and high calorie products in schools, it can help slowly lead to a decline in child obesity for  the future.

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3 Responses to Pepsi to restrict caloric beverages in schools, but will Coke?

  1. a_hundza says:

    With the struggle to effectively adopt positive lifestyle changes becoming more and more important in America, and globally, I feel PepsiCo is doing the best thing right now. Not only is this a good plan for them to show their responsibility as an organization but it will impact them positively in the long run financially. Taking the first step to show consumers that they understand the need for change will stay in the minds of the public.
    Likewise, the impacts on Coca-Cola for not taking action will prove to be just as important for them as an organization…just not so nicely. I personally think people will remember this decision if they choose to ignore something important in favor of thinking of the short term dollar. Not to say Coca-Cola will fail completely, but their reputation will fall into a negative light as this awareness becomes more and more prominent in society; they’d be wise to join PepsiCo for the sake of their longterm reputation and PR management.

  2. jmetz says:

    I personally am not a soda drinker. I enjoy drinking healthier beverages, so I believe that by not having soda in vending machines is a great idea. By increasing healthier choices it may lead to a decrease in health problems. I agree, with a_hundza, that it would be wise to join PepsiCo for the sake of their long term reputation and PR management. By coke realizing that they need to be aware of the consequences soda has had on children and adults with diabetes and obesity. By forming PepsiCo, it will show consumers that the company cares about their health. It may hurt their business at first. However, I think that by not having coke and Pepsi in vending machines, it may do two things-have consumers appreciate the product more and show personality and care for their health which will lead to loyalty. It is okay to drink soda sometimes, but by showing that they want to lessen consumption in certain locations, it can ultimately lead to trust from parents and consumers.

  3. cwilusz says:

    I think this is a great initiative by Pepsi Co and a great public relations move as well. By taking there products out of schools is showing that they care about the health and wellness of young people. They will definitely lose business and money by not having their product in schools but they are taking a higher road and creating awareness. They are showing that soda is not a good drink choice for the health of america’s youth.

    I am not sure if Coke will follow because they will be copying them too much, but i think it would be great if they did as well.

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