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Norway Probes Coca-Cola Over Targeting Children With 'Unethical' Ads

CC0 / / A Coca-Cola truck
A Coca-Cola truck - Sputnik International
Coca-Cola Norway's YouTube channel has been accused of promoting unhealthy food among children and adolescents.

The YouTube channel CokeTV, owned and operated by Coca-Cola, has come under the scrutiny of the Norwegian Consumer Council for alleged violations of ethical marketing guidelines, national broadcaster NRK reported.

"Today's children and young people spend a lot of time on social media, so it is especially important to overcome the infringement of unhealthy food and drinks in social media," Consumer Council Vice President Gunstein Instefjord told NRK.

In their complaint to the Food Industry Professional Committee (MFU), the Consumer Council drew special attention to CokeTV's use of personalities with a high appeal to children and young people, such as former children's TV anchor Markus Bailey or popular gamers like Emzia and Dennis Vareide.

According to the Consumer Council, tools such as competitions and prizes are also used excessively, which make it difficult for children and adolescents to understand the mechanics of marketing, while being under tremendous pressure from the social media.

Instefjord emphasized that with this complaint, they wish to spur the companies to "exercise caution" in practice, as stated in the MFU's ethical guidelines.

"Unless the MFU puts this into practice, its methods aren't good enough. Then we must either get better guidelines or replace the entire industry control," Instefjord told NRK.

READ MORE: Norwegian Plastic Surgeons 'Sorry' for Targeting Teenage Girls on Social Media

Coca-Cola Norway Communication Manager Per Hynne admitted to having received a seven-page complaint and pledged to provide documentation on the company's procedures.

In 2017, Coca-Cola launched Coke Zero Sugar in Norway, backing it with a multi-channel marketing campaign highlighting that it tastes "even more like original Coca-Cola," but without sugar. The campaign spanned TV, outdoor and point-of-sale advertising, as well as digital coupons, sampling booths and social media posts.

A key feature of the campaign was a sampling booth at Oslo's main train station, which was manned by identical twins and featured the motto "It's scary how much it tastes like the original."

In October 2018, Coca-Cola admitted that its future production in Norway remains uncertain due to the government's massive sugar tax, which has spurred Norwegians into buying their sweets and beverages in neighboring Sweden.

READ MORE: Norway's Drastic 'Sugar Tax' to Prove Sweet Blessing to Neighboring Sweden

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