Thursday, April 2, 2009

SYDNEY (AP) - Coca-Cola Co. will publish corrective advertisements in Australia after a panel said the soft drink company could have misled consumers with ads saying its products won’t make them fat or rot their teeth.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission said in a news release Thursday that the maker of Coke and Sprite published ads that sought to dispel “myths” about its products but those statements might have given consumers a misleading impression.

One ad, that appeared in October, called the following statements about Coca-Cola “myths”: Makes you fat, rots your teeth, packed with caffeine.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, the world’s biggest soft drinks maker, said it did not intend for its ads to be misleading and it should have been more clear. The new ads say that all calories count and variety and moderation is key.

“This process has reinforced in our minds that even where advertising messages are well-intentioned, it is important to consider the overall impression that the messages may convey,” the new ad said.

The ACCC said it has worked with Coca-Cola’s unit in Australia to issue new advertisements under a court-enforceable action. The ads, called “Setting The Record Straight,” will run Saturday in major Australian newspapers such as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Courier Mail and The Australian. The company will also publish the same corrective advertisement on its Web site and include the correct levels of caffeine for drinks like Coca-Cola, Diet Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero on the site.

“Coke’s messages were totally unacceptable, creating an impression which is likely to mislead that Coca-Cola cannot contribute to weight gain, obesity and tooth decay,” the ACCC said in a statement.

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