Happy Exercise® Coke’s “Happy Cycle” Is Not…

Ah Coke… you’ve done it again. You’ve inspired a blog post with one of your ridiculous commercials. But perhaps that was your intention in the first place. What better way to get even more media attention than to have the blogosphere all a twitter discussing your latest marketing campaign?

My clients sometimes wonder why it’s so difficult to heal their dysfunctional relationships with food and exercise. Well, I can tell them they don’t need to wonder anymore – they can look to you and your latest attempt to position your product into an ever-growing health conscious culture. You blatantly advertise a weight-loss and wellness paradigm that holds people hostage.

In your latest summertime ad, you begin with how a can of Coke used to cost 5 cents and then transition into the big question: What if a can of Coke cost 140 calories?

You know how Tom Cruise had Renee Zellweger at “Hello?” Well Coke, you lost me at “cost 140 calories.” But in the spirit of investigative journalism and research I continued to watch your ad. And just as I suspected, it got worse.

In order for people to “pay” for those Coke calories, you created some silly Happy Cycle exercise contraption for people to ride. The idea is that once they’ve “paid for” the 140 calories that can of Coke “costs” in exercise, the machine delivers a can of Coke. You seem to think that if you can show images of people having fun, enjoying themselves and being happy exercising then they will think that it’s ok for them to drink a Coke – they will have “earned” it. And even though you show them giggling with delight as they “pay their price” to drink a Coke, this is not “Happy Exercise®”.

You are trying to encourage a health conscious population to drink your full-bodied fizzy beverage by blatantly telling them the “price” (in calories) of the drink and showing them that “earning” it (through exercise) can be fun.

But dear Coke, this will never work. There simply isn’t room for you in the conventional cultural calories in/exercise out paradigm. Not only are you fighting a battle you can never win, you are perpetuating the very mindset that will never accept you. And you are contributing to the painful and dysfunctional relationships with food and exercise this mindset creates.

So Coke, how can you win? Well, I told you last year when you ran that obnoxious “Happy Calories” ad – you’re treading on my brand and you should call me. Quit trying to position yourself as acceptable in the diet and exercise mindset – it will never happen.

Instead, learn what Happy Calories and Happy Exercise® are really about and help me promote that. On the upper corner of every Coke vending machine there is a sign that says “All Calories Count.” (Again, a simple marketing ploy to placate a health conscious culture.) And you know I staunchly disagree. Happy Calories Don’t Count. It’s not about wishful thinking. It’s not about “magic” or “woo woo.” And it’s not about marketing. It’s about changing a core mindset and about healing.

“Happy Calories” and “Happy Exercise®” refer to  life-affirming relationships with food and exercise that create vibrant health and sustainable results. These results come from developing a deep and respectful relationship with the body and from ceasing to look at it in terms of “calories in” and “exercise out.” So of course, because we don’t even think in those conventional terms, “Happy Calories” are not going to “count.”

When we approach weight-loss and wellness from this perspective, we follow the natural instincts and wisdom of the body. Eating is free and instinctual. Exercise is a joyful expression of physical life. Painful and dysfunctional behavior is healed and results are sustainable. There is room to enjoy any food that the body truly wants without a “cost” – even a refreshing fizzy beverage known as Coke.