Coke Misunderstands “Happy Calories” – Ad Pulled In UK

Coke is in a bit of hot water these days. Their “Be OK” ad illustrating how a can of Coke – equaling 140 “Happy Calories” – can be used to “spend on extra Happy Activities” was just banned in the UK. And as the original “Happy Calories, Happy Exercise Girl,” I have to agree – that ad should be pulled – but not for the reason everyone else thinks.

The ad begins with a graphic of a can of Coca-Cola with the statement “140 Happy Calories.”  The first thought that flickered through my mind upon seeing this was, “Ok, Coke just hijacked my brand…probably unintentional…but you’d think the marketing department would have at least Googled the term…they would have found me… ok, let’s see where this goes.”

The next statement to appear on the screen was “to spend on extra Happy Activities.”

Alright then. No wonder Coke is in trouble! Coke is using my signature phrase – Happy Calories – in the context of the “diet and exercise” paradigm – and that just doesn’t work. From a true “Happy Calories” perspective, Coke’s ad should be pulled because it is based on the fundamental misconception that the human body is merely a caloric balance sheet. The ad should be pulled because it perpetuates the painful and faulty notion that we have to “pay a price to eat.” However, this point is getting lost in all the conversations regarding this ad – and its subsequent ban.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority banned the ad because it was “misleading.” After the statement “to spend on extra Happy Activities,” the ad shows a series of example activities – and how long one would need to do them to spend those 140 Happy Coke Calories. The uproar is over the idea that 25 minutes of dog walking or 10 minutes of dancing or 75 seconds of laughing does not burn 140 calories – that one would need to engage in all of these activities in the commercial to burn those 140 calories. And that point was not clearly made.

In my opinion, Coke is really in trouble because their marketing department is using the words “Happy Calories” and “Happy Activities” without the benefit of addressing the consciousness shift I promote – without addressing the consciousness shift that is required to truly understand the meaning behind my signature phrase and the healing it facilitates.

My concept of Happy Calories and Happy Exercise simply cannot work in the “diet and exercise” consciousness. In the current cultural “diet and exercise” mindset, the human body is nothing more than a caloric balance sheet. In the “diet and exercise” mindset, eating is no longer an inalienable right – the right to eat must be earned. In the “diet and exercise” mindset, we earn the right to eat through exercise – or suffer the negative consequences of weight-gain. In the “diet and exercise” mindset, we track and calculate how much food our exercise has “bought” us through this currency known as the calorie.

So of course, in this “diet and exercise” mindset, Coke is most definitely considered “bad.” Coke is full of “empty calories.” Coke’s mistake is that rather than support a revolution into a new consciousness regarding weight-loss and wellness, it tried to negotiate better positioning within the current “diet and exercise” consciousness – and it simply can’t.

The irony is that Coke was already on the cusp of a new consciousness. Happy Calories™ and Happy Exercise™ are about fundamentally redefining the core weight-loss and wellness paradigms to create happy, life-affirming experiences with food and exercise that facilitate sustainable results. And the Coke brand has historically aligned with happiness. Coke could have participated in the Happy Calories Happy Exercise revolution by simply doing nothing! They could have been part of the revolution by refraining from creating ads that promote the mindset that fosters painful and dysfunctional relationships with food and exercise.

When we return to the original “common sense” practices of connecting with our body and letting it lead the way, we instinctively do things that contribute to our health and happiness. We eat when we’re hungry. We stop when we’re full. We move when we feel restless or stiff. We rest when we are tired. When we shift our consciousness from thinking of the human body in terms of a caloric balance sheet we must control, to a miracle of nature with which we have the privilege of engaging in partnership – everything changes. We stop using calories to judge our food. We stop using calories to judge our bodies. We stop using calories to judge ourselves. And we become happy.

This happiness is a natural result of connecting with our bodies. Our bodies can create Life itself! Surely, they know what they need and want to optimize their state of health. And they are communicating this information to us all the time. All we need to do is connect with our bodies and follow their guidance. And in this shift in consciousness – which I for years have referred to as “Happy Calories” and “Happy Exercise” – there is absolutely no judgment regarding a refreshing, fizzy beverage known as Coke (regular or Diet).

And sadly, that’s where Coke has missed the mark. They tried to justify their product in a consciousness that won’t accept it. They didn’t understand the opportunity to support and promote a consciousness in which their products would not be judged in terms of “good” or “bad.” They didn’t recognize that by already being “the real thing,” by “having a Coke and a smile,” or by offering Diet Coke “just for the taste of it” that by my definition, they could already be “Happy Calories.”