In the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl, soft drink maker Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) will run advertising highlighting the company’s low-calorie beverages and pointing out that consuming too many calories of any kind can lead to obesity. The ads are aimed at deflecting some of the pressure on the sugar-drinks industry, which is threatened by caps on the size of drinks vendors will be allowed to sell and by proposed taxes on sugared beverages.
New York City is set the enforce a cap on the size of drinks for sale later this year, and as many as 20 cities and states have considered imposing taxes on sugared drinks. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP), and a beverage lobbying group spent around $35 million on lobbying efforts to fend off these taxes in 2010, and were on track to top that spending in 2011. Spending in 2012 is not available yet.
Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (NYSE: DPS) have seen most of their growth in recent years from low-calorie drinks, including sport drinks and bottled water. Coke’s new ad campaign could just be acknowledging that fact.