The Coca-Cola Company lost its appeal to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to exclude John Harrington's "Proposal for Report on Sugar and Public Health," from Coca-Cola's 2019 annual meeting of shareowners' proxy statement.
Harrington Investments then recruited Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers to introduce the resolution at the company's April 24 annual meeting in Atlanta.
Read Coca-Cola's December 14, 2019 Letter to the SEC in Opposition
Read John Harrington's Enlightening Response
Excerpts from response filed by attorney Sanford Lewis on behalf of John Harrington:
The Company Letter repeatedly asserts that the Proposal as well as the Proponent's supporting statement are misleading regarding targeting children and young consumers with Coke product advertisements. It repeatedly claims it does not market any of its products, sugary drinks or otherwise, directly to children under 12. The Company objects to Paragraph 4 of the supporting statement as it includes how the Company continues to directly market sugary drink to children, influencing their diets and health, claiming it to be false or misleading. Finally, the Company claims Paragraph 5 of the supporting statement is either false or misleading in that it discusses the total ban on child targeted and interactive junk food advertising put in place by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 as a response to concerns regarding child obesity. The Company claims this statement implies a falsehood because it does not engage in child-targeted advertising.
Their argument is based on a technical interpretation of their own rules, and without adequate attention to loopholes that, in practice, yield the opposite result.
While the company makes a technical argument based on the language of its internal rules to claim that it does not market to children, the reality is that those rules have exceptions through which substantial marketing to children takes place. Therefore, none of those statements are objectively false. As discussed above, examination of this issue by the proponent shows that the Company continues to market its sugary drinks to children under 12, as it excepts characters used in its marketing campaigns that directly appeal to this age group by categorizing them as "brand equity characters" if they were in use prior to their 2015 Responsible Marketing Policy implementation.
Furthermore, the Company continues to advertise to children under 12 where the audience contains young children, but they make up less than 35% of the audience or where the audience demographics are unknown. The Company's actions, therefore, demonstrate that while it may pose a technical argument based on the language of its internal rules to claim that it does not market to children, the reality is that those rules have exceptions through which substantial marketing to children is driven. Therefore, none of those statements are objectively false, and thus these assertions do not constitute exclusion-worthy assertions under SLB14B.
See resolution as it appears in Coca-Cola's 2019 proxy statement
In Coca-Cola's opposition statement, the company ludicrously sites the Access to Nutrition Foundation (ATNF) which publishes the Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) to corroborate that Coca-Cola is a leader in promoting healthy diets throughout the world. The ATNF/ATNI is a smokescreen for companies, like Coca-Cola, to hide their irresponsible actions in promoting unhealthy sugar, calorie and chemical laden sodas and other beverages especially to children.
To learn more about the ATNF/ATNI and Coca-Cola's efforts to cover-up its exploitation of children, please read sections of "Buying Respectability:Coca-Cola and the Co-opting of the Corporate Social Responsibility Movement":
ATNI Whitewash & Opposition to GMO Labeling
Coke's Fallacy: Won't Market to Children Under 12 Worldwide!!
Kids in Mexico and Elsewhere Remain Marketing Targets
Use of Illegal Hazardous Child Labor in Coca-Cola's Supply Chain
Coke's Biggest Cheerleaders: Warren Buffett and Bill & Melinda Gates
Watch how Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent refuses to answer a simple yes or no question on dangerous child labor posed by Ray Rogers at Coca-Cola's April 29, 2015 annual meeting of shareowners.
Watch on YouTube
Sparks fly as Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent looks foolish trying to muzzle Corporate Campaign, Inc./Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers from raising issues regarding Coca-Cola work-related fatalities and profiting from illegal, dangerous child labor in sugar cane harvesting.
Watch on YouTube
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers challenging Coke CEO Muhtar Kent over Coca-Cola's labor and human rights abuses in Colombia, Guatemala and New York and harming the health and well-being of children worldwide. Kent never answered the question: "So, Mr. Chairman, how do you lie your way out of 'Coca-Cola will not market to children under 12 worldwide'?"
You can contact the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke at (718) 852-2808 or e-mail us at info@KillerCoke.org.
We look forward to hearing from you!
— The entire team at The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke —