Since its founding in 1899, NCL has been on the look-out for product claims that may be deceptive or misleading. So when we came across a few advertisements about vitaminwater recently, we were shocked to see that the company that manufactures vitaminwater, Glaceau (a Coca-Cola company), is suggesting that its products can keep you healthy or pre-empt the need for flu shots!
In a formal complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission in February 2011, NCL is pointing to print and television advertisements that suggest vitaminwater can replace flu shots or prevent illness and prey on consumers’ health concerns to sell a high-calorie product:
- A poster ad for “vitaminwater” that states: “flu shots are so last year” and pictures three varieties of vitaminwater under the banners “more vitamin c, more immunity . . .”
- A TV ad for “vitaminwater power-c” (read text of spot here) that depicts a woman who has so many unused sick days at work that she can take them to stay home and watch movies with her boyfriend. The ad states “One of my secrets? vitaminwater power-c. It’s got vitamin C and zinc to help support a healthy immune system. So I can stay home with my boyfriend – who’s also playing hooky.”
“These advertising claims are not only untrue; they constitute a public health menace. Stopping these vitaminwater claims, which contradict information by the Centers for Disease Control and other public health authorities, should be a top FTC priority,” stated Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL.
The NCL complaint also urged the FTC to halt deceptive label statements for vitaminwater that describe the product as:
- a “nutrient enhanced water beverage” and that claim
- “vitamins + water = all you need”
According to NCL, the statements are deceptive because the products on which they appear are not simply made from vitamins and water, but are made with crystalline fructose or other forms of sugar, and contain 125 calories per bottle.
“Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese; the last thing people need is sugar water with vitamins you could get from eating a healthy diet, or by taking a vitamin pill, Greenberg stated.
The FTC should act now, during cold and flu season, to stop vitaminwater’s outlandish claims,” she said.