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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Coke attacked for Harry Potter links
Harry Potter and Coca Cola
Drinks maker Coca-Cola has come under fire from Harry Potter fans for using images of the popular character in its latest advertising campaign.


Much as parents are involved in reading with their children and helping to make decisions about what they read, parents are also involved in deciding what their kids choose to eat or drink

Susan McDermott
The campaigners object to Coca-Cola's use of images from the movie about the boy wizard on its products.

However as part of the deal Coca-Cola will also give $18m (£12m) to the US Reading is Fundamental (RIF) campaign to encourage literacy in children.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, as it is named in America, goes on general release in both the US and UK on 16 November.

'Marketing wizard'

It will première in London under the British title Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

But campaigners feel the drinks company is trying to make children buy its products protesters deem unhealthy.

"Coke has transformed Harry Potter into a marketing wizard," said Gary Ruskin, executive director at advertising monitor Commercial Alert.

Coca-Cola has hit back against the claim, insisting that the company's links with Harry Potter are about promoting the value of reading and the magic of the character, not about promoting products to children.

Save Harry campaign logo
Save Harry campaign logo

"Much as parents are involved in reading with their children and helping to make decisions about what they read, parents are also involved in deciding what their kids choose to eat or drink," said spokeswoman Susan McDermott.

"Both experiences are about family enjoyment and parental choice."

Letter of complaint

Several organisations have backed the 'www.saveharry.com'-campaign which urges fans to write letters of complaint to the author of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling.

In their proposed standard letter, campaigners insist that soft drinks "are basically empty calories, thanks to the 10 teaspoons of sugar in a typical 12-ounce serving".

"Also, soft drinks may replace water, low fat milk, fruit juice, and other more healthful drinks in the diet," it continues.

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