The school of bloggers were having this debate last night: would companies like Coca-Cola do things like this if they weren't seeing dips in profits (or at least waning public confidence in the company)?
Personally I think that companies are able to "control" what people think and how people shop only as long as the public has confidence in them. That is why they work so hard to give people warm, positive associations with their brand name. Look at this quote from the Coke executive:
"This program is about education, not selling product," Ms. White said. "It would be disingenuous to sell product through a program like this."I think that once the public decided that selling high-calorie drinks in schools is harmful to kids, there was some sort of power shift. Now schools know that Coke needs them as much as they need Coke.