Coca-Cola is scaling back its Christmas truck campaign, which the famous beverage company started in 1995, after facing backlash from health activists in the United Kingdom.
For those unfamiliar with the annual event, the tour comprises of Coca-Cola workers handing out free cans of Coke in dozens of cities and towns across Britain.
— Coca-Cola GB (@CocaCola_GB) November 10, 2018
This year, the Christmas campaign kicked off Nov. 9 in Glasgow and will travel to a total of 24 municipalities, a steep decrease from the 38 places the whimsical truck stopped at last year, according to CNN.
Even with the downsized campaign, Jon Woods, general manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland, said the soda maker isn’t giving up on the iconic event.
“For a few weeks per year,” he said, “thousands of consumers love and enjoy our Christmas truck tour and as long as consumers want it we will continue to run it.”
? We are calling on @CocaCola_GB to stop handing out sugary drinks this Christmas, and asking #CokeTruck Tour hosts @Tesco and @Asda to do the same. #GetTheTruckOut @UKSustain Take action ✋?https://t.co/kcNcVMfEKp pic.twitter.com/peHfYxY8qE
— sugarsmartuk (@sugarsmartuk) November 13, 2018
The protests against Coca-Cola have been organized by Sustain’s Sugar Smart campaign, which has spearheaded demonstrations bashing the festive event in a handful of cities across Europe.
Several cities, including Sea, Carlisle and Liverpool, have disinvited the Coca-Cola onto public land.
We've joined over 70 local authorities, national organisations & @sugarsmartuk to call on @CocaCola_GB to stop handing out sugary drinks over Christmas ❌ #Plastic bottles & sugar are bad news for all! https://t.co/kUMdvpfRxz #CokeTruck #GetTheTruckOut pic.twitter.com/UZppfjTG1i
— City to Sea (@CitytoSea_) November 14, 2018
The Sugar Smart campaign is urging locals to send a pre-written letter to their municipal leaders, demanding they bar Coca-Cola from entering their cities and towns to offer free drinks to people.
“By hosting the Coca-Cola Truck Tour, your organization is allowing the promotion of sugary drinks to the general public, particularly to children and young people,” the letter reads. “The truck tour has one objective, and that is to increase sales. It encourages instant recognition of its most sugary and unhealthy product.”
The letter concludes by asking officials for two things: “To call on Coca-Cola to commit not to hand out sugary drinks on your land at all, and secondly, not to invite the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour back next year.”
It should also be noted that, according to Coca-Cola’s statistics, the company expects 90 percent of the sodas handed out to contain zero sugar, thanks to Diet Coke and Coke Zero. Coca-Cola does not allow children below the age of 12 to have a free beverage.