Coca-Cola defends Christmas truck after Keith Vaz MP says vehicle is 'not welcome in Leicester'

Coca-Cola has responded to calls from MP Keith Vaz for the brand's Christmas truck tour not to stop in his Leicester constituency, saying that children under 12 will not be targeted directly for sampling and that no-sugar options will be available.

Tour de force: The campaign is not aimed at children, Coca-Cola says
Tour de force: The campaign is not aimed at children, Coca-Cola says

Leicester is among the 46 locations where the Coca-Cola truck will be stopping as part of the brand’s Christmas campaign, announced this week.

In a statement on his website on Wednesday afternoon, the MP for Leicester East and chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee said: "The Coca-Cola truck is not welcome in Leicester, and this national tour to promote sugar-laden drinks is ill-judged and unwise at a time of record diabetes and obesity levels.

"Coca-Cola has said the truck will not be giving its products to younger children, but this is clearly unenforceable.

"This tour is not the ‘real thing’, it is the wrong thing."

In a statement, Coca-Cola Great Britain said: "We're delighted to be visiting Leicester this year as part of the Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour.

"Our Christmas truck tour also operates in line with our responsible marketing policy so we don't sample our drinks directly to under-12s.

"There will also be an opportunity to choose one of the four Coca-Cola variants to enjoy – this includes Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero, our no calorie, no sugar variants."

Vaz is the latest well-known figure to speak out against suppliers of sugary food and drinks recently. Most notably, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is pressing the Government to introduce a ‘sugar tax’.

As PRWeek earlier reported, Coca-Cola launched its Christmas truck tour with a twist that allowed the public to access details of the route by expressing their interest on Twitter.

Blue Rubicon is handling trade PR for the campaign, while Lexis is looking after consumer media.

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