THE advertising industry has come under fire for failing to act on controversial claims that Coca-Cola does not make people fat or rot their teeth — claims the national consumer regulator has now ruled were “totally unacceptable”.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission yesterday ordered Coca-Cola to publish corrections in newspapers around the country over its “motherhood and myth-busting” campaign last year, which featured high-profile Australian actress Kerry Armstrong.
The ACCC found the advertisements had the potential to mislead consumers by suggesting Coca-Cola could not contribute to weight gain, obesity or tooth decay.
It also ruled misleading the claim that 250ml of Diet Coca-Cola contained half the amount of caffeine as that in the same sized cup of tea.
Late last year the industry-funded Advertising Standards Bureau dismissed similar complaints about the “myth-busting” campaign because, among other reasons, it did not promote “excessive consumption” and included extra detail about dental hygiene.
Health and dental groups applauded the ACCC’s crackdown on the Coca-Cola campaign, while consumer advocates said it highlighted the failure of the advertising industry to effectively regulate itself.
“It just really underlined that (advertisers) are out of line with community standards,” Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said. “Advertisers are the people who are meant to keep their fingers on the pulse of society, but we would argue that in terms of junk food advertising they are just way out of step.”