Truckers to Coke: Can the Super Bowl ad!
Trade group says Super Bowl spot for Full Throttle energy drink reinforces negative images of truck drivers.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Truckers want Coca-Cola to slam the brakes on a planned Super Bowl ad for its Full Throttle energy drink.
The American Trucking Associations has written a letter to Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO E. Neville Isdell urging that the ad be pulled or changed. Coke is the sponsor of the "Full Throttle Kick-Off Show" on ABC just before the Super Bowl, and the 60-second ad is the last one that will be shown on the broadcast. It includes the slogan "Let Your Man Out."
But the trucking group says the ad reinforces what it says is an unfair negative image about truckers. A statement from ATA President and CEO Bill Graves says the ad shows a large truck full of Full Throttle forcing a small passenger car off the road.
Trade publication Advertising Age says the ad also shows the Full Throttle truck tailgating and forcing a smaller vehicle -- adorned with the rival Red Bull logo -- off the main road.
Graves' statement said the ad "will reinforce and help perpetuate a negative stereotype that the trucking industry and our professional drivers have fought long and hard to overcome."
A Coca-Cola spokesman would not comment on the content of the ad, but he said that the company had heard and responded to the trucking company's concerns.
"We believe the ad that ATA is reacting to is most likely a rough cut of the ad," said Coke spokesman Scott Williamson. "The ad has undergone significant changes since then. We feel some of the changes reflect many of the concerns the organization raised to us."
Full Throttle was launched by Coke a year ago in the fast-growing energy drink market. The ad Sunday is the first national broadcast ad for the brand, Williamson said.
"Full Throttle is the ultimate energy drink for guys, and kick-starting the ultimate 'guy' event with the 'Full Throttle Kick-Off Show' is a huge milestone for this brand," said a statement from Alison Lewis, senior vice president, integrated marketing, Coca-Cola North America. In addition to ads for Full Throttle, Coke will advertise its new VAULT Hybrid Energy Soda in the pre-game show.
While Williamson would not comment on the impact of the ATA's complaint on the marketing effort, the group's efforts have probably gotten far more attention for the ad than it would have received from its simple placement on the less watched pre-game show.
The top-selling energy drink is Red Bull, which is produced by the privately-held German company of that name.
For a rundown of this year's Super Bowl ads, click here.
For a look at look at how Pepsi has outgunned Coke, click here.