20 Feb 2014

Coke's All Black sponsorship deplored

10:18 pm on 20 February 2014

Campaigners against sugary drinks say Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the All Blacks is "totally inappropriate" and "an embarrassment".

Health professionals at a conference in Auckland say fizzy drinks and flavoured milk cause many preventable problems such as diabetes, obesity and rotten teeth.

The principal dental officer for Nelson and Marlborough, Rob Beaglehole, says using the country's most recognised sports stars to sell the Coca-Cola brand is totally inappropriate.

A dietician, Caryn Zinn, says the advertising is almost shameful, as children look up to the All Blacks as national icons: "They want to drink what they drink, they want to eat what they eat."

But Coca-Cola's brand manager in New Zealand, Paul Fitzgerald, says most of its All Blacks advertising involves the company's sugar-free drinks or energy drinks that are aimed at athletes, and the money paid to the New Zealand Rugby Union is put back into developing the game.

The union's general manager of commercial and public affairs, Nick Brown, says the NZRU has a wide range of sponsors across many product categories but the All Blacks' main relationship is with high-performance exercise drink, Powerade, which helps people stay hydrated.