Instead of dishing out cans of sugary fizzy drinks the beverage giant is being urged to show initiative and distribute sugar-free alternatives instead.
This year’s 24-stop tour kicked off in Glasgow last week, wending its way around the country before pulling up in London on 16 December. The annual stunt involves twin articulated lorries bedecked in fairy lights and Coca-Cola branding while blaring the ‘Holidays are Coming’ jingle.
Passerby can then avail themselves of free 150ml cans of Coca-Cola, Zero Sugar and Diet Coke from staff. Increasingly vocal opposition to the gimmick has sparked a backlash during past events with protests staged in Glasgow, London and Bristol, prompting destinations such as Carlisle and Liverpool to withdraw from this year’s event.
The opposition is being coordinated by food and health charity Sustain which points out that 14 of the planned 19 stops in England have a higher than average incidence of excess weight among 10 and 11-year olds.
Responding to the complaints Coca-Cola GB general manager Jon Woods vowed that 90% of drinks distributed this year would be zero sugar, with none distributed to children under 12 unless accompanied by an adult.
Coca-Cola has already taken the step of unifying its original and zero sugar packaging in an effort to encourage adoption of the healthier option and has put Coke Zero front and centre of its Christmas campaign for the first time.