February 2, 2011
Washington, DC--The nation’s oldest consumer group today, in a formal complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, called advertising and labeling claims made by vitaminwater “dangerously misleading” and urged the commission to halt deceptive statements being made by the manufacturer. The National Consumers League, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit watchdog, pointed to print and television advertisements that suggest vitaminwater can replace flu shots and prevent illness and prey on consumers’ health concerns to sell a high-calorie product.
“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.
Vitaminwater is a beverage manufactured by Glaceau, a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company. The complaint by NCL urges the FTC to put an end to:
- 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.”
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.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.