Is the new contest by Coca-Cola illegally deceiving people?
It's no secret that I am a fan of diet soda and I wholeheartedly believe it helped me during my weight loss to be as successful as I was. While some dieting purists have scoffed at such talk and have even scorned me for not just drinking water (which I did and still do drink a lot of), I am still convinced it was an important part of my success. Diet soda is certainly better than sugary soda for anyone trying to lose weight.
In fact, I even blogged about a special promotion the Coca-Cola company conducted earlier this year in conjunction with the 2006 Winter Olympics where lots of people won certificates good for 5 FREE 2 liter bottles of your choice of Coke products.
But the Coca-Cola company is now running a new contest this summer called MyCokeRewards where you have a chance to win some interesting prizes, such as an exclusive recording session, the famous red couch from American Idol, a real car hood from a NASCAR vehicle, and a round of golf at the legendary Pebble Beach. Exciting prizes, to say the least. There's only one problem and my fellow blogger and anti-Coke crusader Julia Havey calls them on it -- it's impossible to drink enough Coke products to EVER win a single one of these prizes.
According to the About page at MyCokeRewards.com, this contest is designed so that it "rewards you for something you already do – drink Coca-Cola brand products."
Their slogan of "Drink, Choose, Live" is one to die for...literally!
Oh really? Rewards, huh? Well, Julia ran the numbers and you're not gonna believe how much Coke people will have to drink to actually collect enough points to win one of these amazing prizes.
Check out this question Julia asked several health experts to help her answer:
"If someone attempted to consume a ridiculously large amount of Cola and diet cola--in a 10 month period, what do you think would happen to an individual who consumed roughly 49,000 12 ounce containers of Cola and also, what if they were to consume the diet version? Or what about a smaller amount of 25,000 units? I am interested in learning what the intake of that large amount of cola/diet would/could do to the human body."
To answer this question, Julia asked Dr. David L. Katz (who has chided me at my blog before) about what would happen to the human body if that much Coke and/or Diet Coke were to be consumed.
Here are the shocking details from Dr. Katz:
"Julia- silly question; I can't answer. 10 mos is roughly 300 days. 49,000 sodas in 300 days is 163 sodas a day. That is a volume of 30 gallons. That alone would wreak metabolic havoc, causing lethal electrolyte imbalance. And if this were regular soda, it would represent more than 16,000 calories per day, or up to 8 times typical requirements and a potential weight gain of 5 lbs daily. Well beyond the realm of the plausible. 25,000 is still unrealistic. the most volume that could be handled, in total fluids per day, by young healthy kidneys is roughly 12. Still very extreme. 10 sodas a day would be about 2 gallons, and is plausible. Perhaps even twice that. But not much beyond. it is horrible, but be careful in interpreting this; a similar volume of perfectly pure water would do the same. Normal healthy kidneys can only clear up to 12 gallons of fluid a day, and that is extreme. Take in more than that, and you will dilute your serum electrolytes, develop seizures, and die. well, I guess you can say: nothing, since they would be dead of volume overload and hyponatremia long before aspartame could hurt them. You have to be alive for aspartame to hurt you. Perhaps they'll find this (accurate) answer intriguing!"
I do believe Julia's point has been made regarding this contest which requires you to collect codes from 2-liter bottle caps and 12-packs of Coke products. You get three points for each 2-liter code and ten points for the 12-pack code.
As if drinking that much Coke wasn't difficult enough, the rules on the game make it even more difficult to even come close to winning a good prize. While the MyCokeRewards contest is heavily marketed to the teeny bopper crowd to get them to drink more Coke products, the truth is you have to be 18 years old or older to win. Even worse is the fact that you are not allowed to pool your points together with other people because Coke wants individuals to drink more Coke.
Then the rigamarole of actually trying to enter your points is a pain as I quickly found out.
Three rows of the alpha-numeric code must be registered
You have to go to MyCokeRewards.com, register with your contact info, click on the Enter Codes page, and carefully type in your codes. You do all of that for 3 lousy points at a time. When I tried to enter a code on Saturday, I received an error on the page even after making sure the code was entered precisely about ten times. Even if you actually COULD drink as much Coke products without killing yourself, the aggravation of entering these silly codes would be enough to discourage people from participating long enough to accue enough points for the good prizes.
THAT IS FALSE ADVERTISING!!!
Julia Havey said this has made her "furious" and she is urging people to contact Coca-Cola and "demanding they end this ridiculous contest or at the very least adjust the prize redemption levels to ones that aren't deadly."
If you agree with me and Julia that the MyCokeRewards contest is impossible to win without dying first, then register your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by clicking here.
Here is the information Julia Havey sent to the FTC:
Name of Company You Are Complaining About: Coca-Cola
Street Address: PO BOX 1734
State or Province: Georgia
Country: UNITED STATES
Zip Code or Postal Code: 30301
Coke instituted My Coke Rewards as a loyalty program; to reward customers for "DRINKING" Coke, diet Coke and Coke one. This is deceptive advertising and violation of the FTC's contest rules. The prizes can be earned with from codes on 12 pks, liters, etc-the 12 pks having the most point value at 10. You can ONLY redeem 10 codes a day, or a max of 100 points @ day if you had all 12pk codes. Redemption varies from cyber prizes for 10 points to as high as 56,000 for the “American Idol set couch”. Recently Coca-Cola lowered the points on many prizes, presumably because of growing complaints (I read posts on line from upset people) about the complete impossibility of winning them based on the 100 max per day point system and the time frame of Feb 17, 2006-Dec 31, 2006—roughly 330 days or 33,000 points MAX ability to accrued (some doubling or extra points are sporadically offered but not guaranteed) To “DRINK, CHOOSE and LIVE” and earn the higher point value prizes, such as the “Sing like an Idol” prize of a Hollywood recording session at 41600 points originally and now 26930, would in reality see the consumer DRINK, going into Hyponatremia and DYING.
She is calling upon others who think this is a travesty and want to hold the Coca-Cola company accountable for this stupid and dangerous contest.
"If your child, or a friend's child, or any child for that matter was set on winning 'sing like an Idol' and tried to drink the 97 cokes a day that it would take to accure enough points and they DIED, would you blame Coke? Well, let's not wait until someone dies to let them know how irresponsible and deceptive this contest is!"
Julia believes this will "send a message to "Coca-Cola that we aren't as dumb as they take us for."
"We won't stand by and watch anyone try to drink over 32000 12 ounce cokes; at the rate of 97 a day to win a plane ticket, limo ride to a recording studio to cut a song--the cost to win would be around $5300--news flash, you can fly Southwest to LA for around $500 round trip, get a limo for around $300 a day, get a recording session for around $2000 (w/ a 'producer' and leave with your 'demo') and still have money left for lunch at the IVY for a lot less than it would cost to buy all the Coke and hey, you would save yourself 4,685,820 calories or 1338 POUNDS gained if you drank it all--but none of that would matter because you would be DEAD if you tried to drink that much long before the plane took off to take you to your 'once in a lifetime' prize!"
Man, I love Julia Havey! Her passion is infectious and she is 100% sincere in her convictions. Won't you join her in this fight?
7-1-06 UPDATE: Julia Havey has created a new web site called DrinkChooseLive.com to help further the message about this unreasonable contest from Coke. Check it out!