A Coca-Cola TV ad has been banned in the UK after the authorities ruled it as being “misleading”. 

The 30-second spot highlights various activities people can do to burn off the 139 calories in a can of Coca-Cola, including dancing and “laughing out loud”. However, ten viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over whether the activities would “negate the effects of consuming” the product. 

The ASA also noted that the complainants had understood that each of the individual activities would burn off 139 calories. 

In its response, Coca-Cola said  it “explicitly communicated that the activities featured needed to be done in combination to burn off the 139 calories in a can of Coke,” according to the ASA. The company pointed out that the ad used a 'plus' sign between the activities and also an 'equals' sign, which it believed clearly communicated that it was the sum of those activities that amounted to at least the 139 calories in a can of Coca-Cola .

However, the ASA said thats, as this was not “sufficiently clear to some viewers”, it was “likely to mislead”. The ad must not be shown again in its “current form”, the ASA said. 

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola tackled the obesity issue head on, with the launch of an ad acknowledging it has an "important role" to play in addressing the issue. One person also complained to the ASA about this ad, but the complaint was rejected.

Expert analysis

Soft Drinks in the United Kingdom

Soft Drinks in the United Kingdom

The UK soft drinks industry saw a limited effect from the continued economic pressures during the review period and in 2012. The year was characterised by small but stable growth in value terms and st...read more