Auckland University marketing lecturer and member of health advocacy group FIZZ, Dr Bodo Lang, has unveiled NZ’s first ‘no sugary drinks’ logo (pictured above), to be displayed in schools, businesses, workplaces, public spaces and event venues this week. Things, however, didn't go quite as planned.
Not long after the logo had been officially revealed, representatives from the food and beverage industry started slamming FIZZ for the use of the iconic curved Coke bottle silhouette. "It's not fair that they're singling out one drink in their campaign," said FGC's chief executive Katherine Rich in a statement. It didn't stop there. Coca-Cola itself has sent FIZZ a formal complaint, prompting the health advocacy group to backtrack.
"I think they've copyrighted the bottle. We've decided to pull the logo of our website and look into changing the shape for that reason," said FIZZ founder Gerhard Sundborn. "It's not our intention to single out any one beverage company at all. A sugary drink from wherever, they're practically all the same."
Dr Lang had compared the new logo to the smoke-free/auahi kore logo, saying it would empower communities to lift their health and wellbeing. "It'll also send a clear message about the damage that excess sugar is causing."
The initiative is just the latest part of FIZZ's war on sugar. The group includes researchers and doctors who want a sugar tax and a nationwide school ban on sugary drinks, with the ultimate goal of freeing NZ from fizzy beverages by 2025.
FGC's chief executive Katherine Rich pointed out that FIZZ campaigners are free to ‘express themselves and create all the logos and posters they like’, but there are other ways to make a genuine difference. “They could help the Health Promotion Agency distribute its educational resources regarding the sugar content in beverages to public places such as schools, GP’s offices and dental surgeries,” Rich said, adding that the HPA had given Kiwis ‘much more information than a FIZZ logo about banning sugary drinks ever could.’
The introduction of a sugar tax on soft drinks has also been a key topic at the latest Beverage Council Conference. According to Council’s president Olly Munro, recent Nielsen research on beverage trends in New Zealand shows that consumption of soft drinks doesn’t contribute to the obesity problem.
“Almost 53 percent of people surveyed say they are concerned about the role that sugar plays in their diet, and their consumption behaviour, certainly around soft drinks, would seem to corroborate that,” said Munro. He also added that product innovation, changes in pack size and marketing initiatives had had a positive impact on the category over the last five years.