Consider the following three messages:
1. “Each morning in the open air, take exercise to help keep fit.”
2. “Proper nutrition is essential for a sound mind and a healthy body.”
3. “Coca-Cola is thoroughly compatible with sound, well-balanced nutrition.”
Each is a message concerning well-being. Each echoes the beliefs of The Coca-Cola Company in 2013.
The surprising fact about these messages is that although they naturally fit right in with components of the new Coca-Cola Coming Together infographic, none of them are actually from 2013. Nor are they from the 2000s, or even the 1990s, for that matter.
The messages are from Coca-Cola in 1938, 1973 and 1960, respectively.
It would be easy to assume that the four worldwide business commitments The Coca-Cola Company announced on May 8th to promote health and well-being were reactionary measures in response to recent criticism aimed at the brand Coca-Cola. In actuality, the commitments are just the latest step for a company that has consistently encouraged people to get active and lead healthy lives for many years.
As far back as 1938, just two years after celebrating its 50th anniversary, The Coca-Cola Company produced and distributed a board game called “Steps to Health” to consumers in Canada. “Steps to Health” stressed the importance of daily exercise and a balanced diet. Daily activities highlighted in the board game – such as outdoor play – were based on the “Malden Health Series,” a popular collection of books in the 1930s designed to educate teenagers on proper steps to health.
The Coca-Cola System for Good
The scale and reach of The Coca-Cola Company and its brands are unique, and the company has leveraged this for good throughout history – by distributing refreshing products or resources and information to help contribute to healthier, happier communities worldwide. Local Coca-Cola bottlers have played an integral role. In 1960, bottlers distributed a booklet called “Eat Right, Be on the Ball and Have Fun” to educate teens on building strong bodies and keeping fit through transparent nutritional information designed to help parents, educators and nutritionists drive home the principles of sound nutrition. It was the collaborative work of distinguished national and international authorities in the field of nutrition.
Supporting Locally Executed, Global Physical Activity Programs
In the 1976, Coca-Cola and FIFA partnered to launch the World Football Development Program, an educational effort designed to share soccer technology, teaching and training to get youth active in up to 100 countries where soccer was a relatively young sport at the time. Developed as a global program to be executed at the local level, the initiative included resources such as “Go For Goal” youth soccer training kits produced in dozens of languages in various countries. In addition, Coca-Cola and FIFA worked with national soccer organizations in many regions – such as the Philippine Football Association in the Philippines and the United States Soccer Federation in the U.S. – to bring seminars conducted by soccer experts to countries as diverse as Ethiopia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Venezuela. Karl-Heinz Heddergott, who was considered the world's foremost expert on teaching soccer to youth, was the featured coach at events and in instructional films.
The company produced dozens of instructional sports films from the 1950s through the 1970s to encourage physical activity. The films, which often featured famous coaches and athletes such as tennis player Arthur Ashe, baseball player Willie Mays and UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, trained athletes on exercise and physical fitness. They were made available as a public service to coaches, athletic clubs and sports teams and distributed through local Coca-Cola bottlers.
Energy Balance through the Years
Even as Coca-Cola continues to “Get the Ball Rolling” today with summer programs, the company has always helped to build awareness around energy balance and movement. Case in point is a 1974 Coca-Cola film aptly titled “Get Movin,’” which emphasized the importance of good physical education and to encouraging young people to be involved in physical education programs. In 1970, the Australian division of Coca-Cola produced a physical fitness film and booklet entitled, “Get Fit… Keep Fit.” A year later, the division released a follow-up film and booklet titled “Be Active… Be Attractive.” All resources were made available to Coca-Cola bottlers around the world.
Choices Come in Many Tastes, Shapes and Sizes
In 1955, Coca-Cola packaging first became available in multiple sizes, allowing consumers to choose between the 6.5-ounce, 10-ounce and 12-ounce bottles. Five years later, the first can was introduced. Many packaging innovations launched from that point, including the first mini cans in several countries in the 1970s. The first Coca-Cola mini can introduced in the United States was the 8-ounce can launched in California and given the nickname, “California Compact.” Today, many brands are offered in smaller portion sizes.
The company has offered low- or no-calorie beverage options for more than 50 years, beginning with the introduction of TaB, the company’s first diet product, in 1963. Early advertising for TaB carried the line, "At last, robust flavor in a 1 calorie soft drink." Three years later, the company introduced Fresca, a citrus-based, sugar-free product. The biggest launch of a diet product came in 1982 with the introduction of Diet Coke, which became the biggest-selling low-calorie soft drink within a year in the U.S. and, within its first two years, reached 19 countries.
With a heritage of providing consumers with beverage options, The Coca-Cola Company continues to expand its portfolio to meet people’s evolving needs and get people moving by supporting physical activity programs.
On May 8th, our company also made a new commitment to responsible marketing, including no advertising to children under 12 anywhere in the world. This commitment expanded a policy introduced on Sept. 13, 1956.
When considering the question of why the company has invested so many resources through the years into physical education and active, healthy living programs, the answer is simple: Coca-Cola is very much a part of every local community in which the product is available, and Coca-Cola is and has always been committed to the well-being of those communities. While the world has changed over 127 years, The Coca-Cola Company’s commitment to understanding consumers and making a positive difference in their lives and communities has not. It’s in our DNA.
All of the Coca-Cola global well-being commitments build upon our history and initiatives that are already being implemented in many countries. Indeed, this is the next step in our journey.
The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta recently unveiled a new “Active, Healthy Living Through the Years” exhibit that features many of the artifacts mentioned in this article. The exhibit celebrates the many ways Coca-Cola has been coming together with partners to get people moving throughout the history of the brand.
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