The AP is reporting that, unlike statements made by the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), Coke played a key role in getting the organization set up, helping to develop its strategy and contributing largely to how the non-profit operates today. Emails reveal that "Coke helped pick the group's leaders, edited its mission statement and suggested articles and videos for its website." Given the so-called independent nature of this group, these findings are pretty disturbing. Coca-Cola's CEO even admitted it, saying "it has become clear to us that there was not a sufficient level of transparency with regard to the company's involvement with the Global Energy Balance Network."
This is not entirely surprising given the group's history. Led by Dr. James Hill at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the University returned $1 million to Coke back in August following a NY Times report noting the ties between the school and the soda maker. But nonetheless, groups such as this one - with significant resources from industry AND institutional credibility - make for a combo that deserves added scrutiny.
What will become of the GEBN remains to be known, but I wonder if the folks in Colorado think it's all been worth it. The media has certainly taken it to task and one has to wonder what kind of publicity - and ultimately the credibility - results from a partnership of this kind.