Page last updated at 00:39 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 01:39 UK

Coke criticised for 'condoning sick days' in an advert

Vitaminwater advert
Coca-Cola said the line was "clearly tongue-in-cheek"

A small business group has criticised Coca-Cola for adverts which appeared to condone being off work without reason.

Wording on a water brand owned by Coca-Cola says: "If you've had to use sick days because you've actually been sick, then you're seriously missing out."

The Glaceau Vitamin Water advert, which angered the Forum of Private Business, continued: "The trick is to stay perky and use sick days to just, not go in."

Coca-Cola said the advert was in no way meant as a serious recommendation.

The business organisation said it was "unacceptable to encourage workers to throw 'sickies' in order to sell a soft drink. A company of the standing of Coca-Cola should know better".

It claimed employee absence was costing the UK's economy almost £12bn-a-year in lost working days.

'Tongue-in-cheek'

A Coca-Cola spokesperson said it was "clearly a tongue in cheek reference" and "one of a series of fictional stories" on the bottle which "help demonstrate the brand's personality - we are not seriously suggesting people should call in sick when they are not ".

In October 2009 the Coca-Cola product was also criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for presenting "misleading" claims about nutritional benefits.

Slogans such as "more muscles than brussels" and "keep perky when you're feeling murky" were used.

Complaints were made about implications that the drinks were equivalent to vegetables and had health benefits such as raised energy levels and resistance to illness.

Two people also said that the adverts implied that the drinks were "healthy", even though they contained 4.6g of sugar per 100 ml.

The ASA rejected the drinks company's argument that the advertising was "humorous and irreverent".



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