Coca-Cola has been forced to distance itself from ads for its new milk drink that have been slammed as “sexist” and “gratuitous”.

The ads — promoting Coca-Cola’s new “premium milk brand”, Fairlife — feature naked women covered in milk.

They are clearly meant to evoke the ‘pin-up’ art of the ’50s, and according to Laura Bates from The Guardian, are based on an existing set of photographs called Milky Pin-Ups by London-based photographer Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz.

Bates strongly criticised the ads, writing that “when it comes to the objectification of women in advertising, we seem to be slipping backward instead of moving forward”.

The reaction from the Twittersphere was swift and brutal:

Now the company is trying to distance itself from the ads, releasing this statement on its website this morning:

In June, we concluded two test markets in Denver and Minneapolis. The test markets allowed fairlife to learn what was working and what we needed to improve for the upcoming national launch. So you’ll see all new packaging and new advertising once we launch. The “pin-ups” advertising may have been eye-catching, but we’re taking a totally new approach… that campaign was retired in June and we’re super excited about what’s to come…

Fairlife is being marketed as a “premium” high protein, low sugar and lactose free milk. Sandy Douglas, Coke’s global chief customer officer, told a conference last week that the company will “charge twice as much for it as the milk we’re used to buying”.

There are no plans to release Fairlife in Australia at this point.

What do you think? Are the ads offensive, or just a bit of fun? Let us know in the comments below!