Dietitians for Hire Recommend Mini Cokes as “Sensible Snack”?

business_ethics_highlights_2Blurring the line between advertisements and news: “opaque sponsored content.” >>>

Coke as a sensible snack? Coca-Cola works with dietitians who suggest cola as snack

Most of the pieces suggesting mini-Cokes say in the bios that the author is a “consultant” for food companies, including Coca-Cola. Some add that the ideas expressed are their own. One column is marked at the bottom as a “sponsored article,” which is an ad designed to look like a regular story. It ran on more than 1,000 sites, including those of major news outlets around the country. The other posts were not marked as sponsored content, but follow a similar format.

Kelly McBride, who teaches media ethics at The Poynter Institute, said the phrasing of the disclosure that the author is a “consultant” for food companies, including Coca-Cola, doesn’t make it clear the author was specifically paid by Coke for the column.

“This is an example of opaque sponsored content,” McBride said.


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One comment

  1. I think companies like Coke face a genuinely difficult ethical challenge: their product is harmless, in small quantities, but if consumed as much as the Sales dept would like, quite bad for you. I blogged about that a few years back: http://businessethicsblog.com/2010/03/18/the-ethics-of-selling-less/

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