Sammy Nickalls
September 20, 2015 8:44 am

We’ve all heard of Coke’s “Share a Coke” campaign — and may have even spent an embarrassingly long amount of time poking through the shelves to see if our name is on a bottle. Although the campaign has been a pretty huge success for the massive soft drink company, there’s one group that has decided to totally troll it in the name of health.

Coke has a custom label generator that allows you to choose whatever word you like to emblazon on the bottle. Of course, there are certain words you can’t use that are offensive, but the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a public health advocacy group, figured out a word that not only flew right under the radar, but carried an important message about soft drinks and soft drink companies. Mike Howard, the CEO of the group, toyed around with the generator before discovering that he could order a bottle that read “Share a Coke with Obesity,” and it arrived in the mail a few days later. Awkward.

Earlier this month, the group decided to make a YouTube video featuring the bottle — and documented the entire process (and obvious censorship) of choosing a name for the bottle — that highlighted the health issues surrounding soft drinks (and that most of them have been banned from the generator, such as “Diabetes” and “Tooth Decay”). The video has already started to go viral. “Reducing soda consumption is one of our top priorities,” Jeff Cronin, director of communications at CSPI, told Today. “Coke spends billions of dollars positioning sodas as a source of happiness when it fact it causes diabetes, obesity and heart disease. It’s more a source of sadness than happiness.”

Of course, Coke wasn’t all too thrilled about this whole thing, and the word “obesity” has since been banned from the generator. “Thousands of Coca-Cola fans have created custom bottles through this program, and the ‘Share a Coke’ website has guardrails in place to help ensure a positive consumer experience,” a company spokesperson told TakePart. “It’s unfortunate that CSPI and others deliberately try to turn a fun experience into something negative to further their attacks on our brand.”

But to CSPI, the campaign isn’t a “fun experience” — it’s dishonest. In fact, CSPI has created a social media campaign along with their video entitled #ShareHonesty to highlight the dangers of soft drinks. “Coke has been brilliant about using social media,” Cronin told Today. “This whole campaign ‘Share a Coke’ is brilliant. One of the benefits of us doing this is that we get people to think more critically about the messages they get from Coke on social media.”

The hashtag has been gaining a lot of steam, with many taking to Twitter to promote CSPI’s cause.

Some have even started getting creative and attempting their own labels.

This certainly isn’t the first time CSPI has made a YouTube video featuring Coke — nor is it the first time that such a video has gone viral. In fact, back in 2012, “The Real Bears,” a three-and-a-half-minute animated short featuring a past mascot of Coke’s (polar bears) drinking the soft drink and suffering awful health consequences, racked up over 2.5 million views.

We love to share a Coke now and then, but moderation is key with any sugary treat. The people are CSPI seem pretty dedicated to bringing attention to that fact through their massive viral campaigns.

(Images via Twitter.)

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