ATLANTA: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, has stepped into the public debate on obesity and its causes in the US with two new TV ads that address the issue directly.

"There's an important conversation going on about obesity out there, and we want to be a part of the conversation," said Stuart Kronauge, general manager of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America.

"It's the first time we're really leaning into the conversation," Diana Garza Ciarlante, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, told Advertising Age. She added: "The issue of obesity in the US often tends to be discussed in narrow terms – a do or don't, this or that. It's too polarizing.

"We believe the way you can drive and affect change is to bring people together around the table and work together," she said. "We're hopeful this new dialogue we're beginning to have will encourage more of that." 

The move comes as the soft drinks category faces an increasingly tough regulatory environment. Later this year, New York city is to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in restaurants, cinemas and stadiums. 

The first of the new Coca-Cola ads, 'Coming Together', is a two-minute spot now airing on US cable channels which draws attention to the company's record in developing, distributing and marketing low- and no-calorie drinks.

A second, 30-second spot will air on US TV from today. 'Be OK' features various activities, such as walking a dog or dancing, that can burn off the 140 calories in contained a can of Coke.

Coca-Cola's new marketing strategy also ties in with the company's announcement towards the end of 2012 that it would be seeking to exploit the potential of corporate social responsibility in "every aspect" of its operations, as part of its plan to double revenues by 2020.

This includes sponsorship of more than 280 schemes in 115 markets providing education about exercise and education, with a target of running such programmes in at least 200 countries by 2015.

Data sourced from Advertising Age/BBC; additional content by Warc staff