Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Coca Cola Vitaminwater Fraud

[In light of Coca-Cola's much-discussed attempt to place itself at the vanguard in the fight against obesity—see video above—it's worth taking look at its line of "enhanced waters," known as Glacéau vitaminwater. You could be forgiven for thinking the product is a life-giving nectar. The made-up word Glacéau evokes the purity of glaciers. Vitamins are essential nutrients. And water is an unimpeachable ingredient.

Coca-Cola's marketing encourages the healthy image. According vitaminwater's website [1], the Power -C [2]flavor of vitaminwater delivers "zinc and vitamin C to power your immune system"; while the XXX [3] offers "antioxidant vitamins to help fight free radicals and help support your body." And so on [1].

But not everyone's convinced that vitaminwater does a body good. Back in 2009, the Center for Science in the Public Interest sued [4] Coca-Cola for making "deceptive and unsubstantiated" health claims about the products. In 2010, a US federal district court judge rejected Coca-Cola's motion to dismiss the suit (document here [5]), noting that Coke's lawyers had made a remarkable argument: "At oral argument defendants suggested that no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage."

In other words, no one actually believes our flashy marketing—it's obviously nonsense. The vitaminwater suit still hasn't been resolved, a CSPI spokesperson informed me. And hilarity over Coca-Cola's cynical defense strategy is ongoing, too. Stephen Colbert spoofed it just this week:]

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