Coca-Cola could become the new Boris Bikes sponsor. Here are its other most contentious deals

Are London’s iconic blue Boris bikes set to turn red?

Coca-Cola is looking at the possibility of taking over from Barclays as the sponsor for the London bike hire scheme, Sky News reports.

The report says that Coca-Cola is among a number of companies vying for the £5.5m deal, which would see its world-famous logo adorning 10,000 bicycles in the capital.

Following a three-month tender process, which came to an end in September, the scheme’s new sponsor is expected to be officially unveiled in early 2015.

Should Coca-Cola win the contract, the deal would likely prompt difficult questions for Transport for London and its willingness to accept money from the company, given the health concerns associated with the brand.

In a statement, Graeme Craig, TfL’s director of commercial development, said: “The tender process to find a new sponsor for London’s iconic cycle hire scheme has now closed.

“We have had a very positive response and have received bids from a number of top global brands across a range of sectors. We will now be evaluating their submissions.

“We expect to announce the name of the successful partner for TfL’s internationally recognised bike sharing scheme early next year, with the new sponsor in place by summer 2015.”

Courting controversy: Coca-Cola’s contentious sponsorship deals in recent years

2014: Sponsoring an “anti-obesity” campaign

In May this year, Coca-Cola sparked outrage after announcing plans to fund a £20m fitness and anti-obesity drive across the UK. Nutrition campaigners described the partnership as “obscene” and a “disingenuous stunt”.

Sochi Winter Olympics

Coca-Cola refused to withdraw sponsorship of Russia’s winter Games despite being accused of “sponsoring hate” by human rights campaigners concerned about Russia’s brutual crackdown on homosexuality. The company was forced to shut down an interactive feature in which people could write messages of support for athletes on Coke cans, after the site was overrun by LGBT campaigners.

Sugar rush

Over 2013, a spike in news coverage of the detrimental effects of sugar forced Coca-Cola to address the “o” word (obesity) for the first time in the company’s history. A two-minute ad addressed the issue of sugar and calorie intake. A single can of Coca-Cola contains nine teaspoons of sugar, and sweet drinks are now the main source of calories in the American diet.

2012 London Olympics

The headline global sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics included McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Unsurprisingly, the games were slammed as “unethical” by campaigners concerned about working conditions for Coca-Cola employees across the world. The company said it “is a firm supporter of workplace and human rights,” but added that it couldn’t audit every supplier. Critics also highlighted the health concerns associated with both brands’ products.

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