NZ Dental Association slams Taika Waititi for directing Coke Christmas advertisement

New Zealand director and filmmaker Taika Waititi has come under fire from the NZ Dental Association for directing Coke's new Christmas advertisement.

The Oscar Award-winner directed the advertisement released last month, which features Santa driving a Coca Cola truck - transporting a man home from work on an oil rig to be with his daughter for Christmas.

But NZ Dental Association spokesperson Rob Beaglehole told Newshub on Thursday he was appalled at the advertisement.

"I felt sick to my stomach," he said.

"It's a very powerful ad and very clever, and I felt like writing a letter to Taika saying how disappointed I was - particularly from the Māori health equity perspective."

He urged Waititi to stop any relationship he has with Coke.

"I'd like to say you're an awesome director; my kids love you and I really enjoy all your movies [but] please can you cease all relationship you have with a company that is directly harming New Zealanders - particularly youth," said Dr Beaglehole.

"When I saw it [the ad] I felt so outraged - I feel really proud of him so I felt really conflicted."

While the Dental Association didn't want to embarrass Waititi, Dr Beaglehole said they wanted to be sure the issue got some attention.

Rob Beaglehole.
Rob Beaglehole. Photo credit: The AM Show

"Coca Cola continues to advertise and market to children.

"The other issue we need to highlight is the sugary drink companies, including Coca Cola, are selling products that are harmful to New Zealanders and they need to be pulled up on that.

"What the Dental Association and many other organisations are calling on the Government to do is to show leadership, and implement evidence-based regulations that will reduce sugary-drink consumption."

Dr Beaglehole is a staunch advocate for the introduction of a sugar tax, something Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ruled out last year. 

Coca Cola-Amatil and Waititi's representatives have been contacted for comment.