Mike Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was skeptical about the intent behind Coca-Cola's ads and said that if the company was serious about helping reduce obesity, it would stop fighting soda taxes.
"It looks like a page out of damage control 101," he said. "They're trying to disarm the public."
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been critical of the soft drink industry and last year released a video parodying Coke's famous polar bears becoming plagued with diabetes and other health problems from drinking too much soda.
Coca-Cola said its ads aren't a reaction to negative public sentiment, however. Instead, the idea is to raise awareness about lower-calorie drinks and what it plans to do in coming months, said Stuart Kronauge, general manager of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America.
"There's an important conversation going on about obesity out there, and we want to be a part of the conversation," she said.
In the ad, a narrator notes that obesity is an issue that "concerns all of us" but that people can make a difference when they "come together." The spot was produced by Brighthouse and Citizen2 and is intended to reflect Coca-Cola's corporate responsibility among cable news viewers.
Another ad, which will run later this week during "American Idol" and before the Super Bowl, is much more reminiscent of catchy, upbeat advertising people have come to expect from Coca-Cola. It features a montage of activities that add up to burning off the "140 happy calories" in a can of Coke: walking a dog, dancing, sharing a laugh with friends and doing a victory dance after bowling a strike.