Taking the sweetness out of the ‘Share a Coke’ marketing campaign: the influence of personalized labelling on elementary school children’s bottled drink choices

Type Article

Journal Article


F. McDarby; D. O'Hora; D. O'Shea; M. Byrne

Year of publication



Pediatric obesity





Background: Drink personalization (featuring names on bottle labels) has been used by soft drink companies to make their drinks attractive to children, potentially increasing consumption. To date, no publically available research has evaluated the influence of personalization on children's drink choices. Objectives: To determine (i) whether personalizing bottled drinks influences children's drink choices; (ii) whether it is comparably effective in promoting healthy and unhealthy drinks and (iii) whether drink choices are affected by self‐esteem, body mass index and parental factors. Methods: Children aged 8‐13years (N=404) were randomly assigned to one of three drink labeling conditions: Prime Healthy, Prime Unhealthy and Control. All participants selected one beverage from 12 options, comprising six healthy and unhealthy drinks. Results: Personalizing healthy drinks increased choice of healthy drinks (OR, 2.21; 95% CI, 1.24‐4.00), and personalizing unhealthy drinks reduced choice of healthy drinks (OR, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.15‐.0.75). Higher self‐esteem predicted choosing own‐named drinks (OR=1.08, 95% CI, 1.00‐1.18; p=.049). Conclusions: Children's drink choices are influenced by personalizing drink bottles. Tighter regulation of this marketing strategy for soft drinks may reduce children choice of these drinks. Personalization may also be used to encourage children to choose healthy drinks. Copyright © 2016 World Obesity Federation.