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.
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.