The Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour should be banned, public health experts say.
The bright red truck, which many associate with Christmas, stopped off in Londonderry and Belfast last month.
The campaigners argue that the truck tour promotes the consumption of unhealthy sugary drinks, particularly amongst children.
Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Robin Ireland, director of Food Active, a campaign designed to tackle rising obesity levels, and John Ashton, a public health consultant , said Coca-Cola was intent on shaping public opinion through its marketing techniques.
The two men wrote: “At Christmas, Coca-Cola’s marketing goes into overdrive as newspapers across the country regurgitate press releases for its Christmas truck tour, with advertorials promoting the truck as a Christmas tradition. And of course the truck is just the latest of Coca-Cola’s campaigns to become a holiday brand and, indeed, to help brand Santa Claus himself.”
They added: “Should this form of advertising and marketing be banned, given the growing evidence of the effect that marketing of unhealthy food and drink has on children? We believe it should and will continue to push for national action to stop similar campaigns next Christmas.”