“Cokespeak” Commercial Translated Into English: “If You’re Fat, It’s Your Fault!”

Coming Together: Translated


Watch the free documentary, The Cost of a Coke, here.




CSPI Press Release:

Coca-Cola may reign supreme on the airwaves but it doesn’t own the Web. There, its two-minute commercial addressing obesity was met with guffawsincredulity, and general ridicule. Today, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest offers a helpful translation of Coke’s ad.

“Generally, when a company claims to be ‘part of the solution’ it means ‘we know we’re culpable so we must deflect the blame elsewhere,'” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “So we thought it would be useful for consumers and policymakers to unpack similar examples of Coke’s disingenuous corporate gobbledygook and present them in plain English.”

For instance, “for elementary, middle, and high schools, our industry has voluntarily changed its offerings,” is how Coca-Cola’s “Coming Together” ad describes sugary drinks’ departure from schools. CSPI’s translation? “By ‘voluntarily changed’ we mean after parents, school boards, andstate laws kicked sugary drinks out of schools.” 



From the CSPI Executive Director

Did you ever notice how commercials have a funny way of putting things?

For example, “in order to serve you better” often means “lines are going to get longer” or “your bill’s going up.”  Or if an oil company that tells you it’s “part of the solution,” it often means “oops, we made a big mistake.”

Coca-Cola shows it’s no slouch in the dark arts of corporate obfuscation in a recent 2-minute-long ad entitled “Coming Together,” which gently assures us that it’s time “to come together on something that concerns all of us … obesity.”  

We thought it would be useful to consumers and policymakers if we unpacked this commercial and translated Cokespeak into plain, everyday English.  The resulting video, “Coming Together :: Translated” is here.   Please watch today—and take a minute to share this version with your friends, family, and coworkers via email, Facebook, and Twitter.  

(You can see the original commercial here.  Warning:  may cause nausea, drowsiness, irrepressible laughter, or other symptoms of Cokespeak.)


Michael F. Jacobson
Executive Director

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1 Comment
  1. Julie O'Neill says

    There is a quote which comes to mind when I contemplate whether it is worth taking a stand on something or not and it is – “what did you do once you knew”.

    Well these are some of the things I know:

    “Over one-third of Australia’s young people are overweight or obese. Less than half meet recommended physical activity guidelines and very few consume the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day”. Young Australians: their health and wellbeing 2011 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

    In January 2011:
    Diabetes Queensland CEO Michelle Trute said obesity had reached epidemic proportions in Queensland, putting a high proportion of the population at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
    Heart Foundation CEO Cameron Prout said ‘obesity was a major cause of premature death and disability in the state’ (QLD). “Largely preventable chronic diseases cause more than 22,000 deaths in Queensland each year – that’s almost double the national road toll,”
    Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn said “We know that one in three cancers can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes, including eating healthily, moving more and maintaining a healthy weight.”
    “Unless action is taken now to eat healthily, move more and lose weight, we face being the first generation of Queenslanders not to outlive our parents.” Nutrition Australia Qld Nutrition Program Manager Aloysa Hourigan http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/qld/media-releases/health-groups-unite-tackle-obesity-16-january-2012

    I feel sick in the stomach when I hand a child a can of soft drink because I know it is doing them long term harm. For years we have been subjected to very clever marketing which makes us believe that to celebrate we have to consume “treats” such as soft drinks, chips, lollies and alcohol. I fear that by serving soft drinks on ‘special’ days we are reinforcing this myth. It is also a sad reality that the marketing machine easily gets our kids to swap ‘soft’ drink for ‘alcoholic’ drinks to celebrate as they get older.

    It is important that children develop their own wisdom around food choices and they can only do this by experiencing a range of food including ‘treats’. There is a place for ‘treats’. We just need to be mindful that ‘treats’ have become a regular occurrence and it is the cumulative affect of all these ‘treats’ that are doing real damage.

    We have the power to change things. We just have to say no. We have to educated our kids and help them to say no. We have to be fair and stop stocking our sporting and school canteens with poison. What sane child would choose a bottle of water over a colourful bottle of soft drink? Are we being fair to our children? You often hear people say “well we offer healthy choices but no-one buys them”. Well tell me, would you buy a bottle of water when you already have water bottle in your sports bag or can go to a bubbler? Unfair, illogical choice is no choice at all.

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