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Posts Tagged ‘5 Hour Energy’

Energy Drink Makers Shift Their Damage Control Strategies

The makers of extra-caffeinated sugar water products like Monster, Rock Star and 5-Hour Energy are having a tough time. After being tied to several deaths and suffering through a few rounds of terrible PR, they’ve decided to shift their strategies by dropping the “dietary supplements” tag and referring to their products by their proper name: beverages. Our question: how did they get away with that for so long?

In calling their products what they so obviously are, the makers of these drinks are also subjecting themselves to new regulations–and avoiding others. They now have to list exactly how much caffeine each can contains, but their spokespeople no longer have to let the FDA know when someone draws a link between the “beverages” and their adverse health effects.

Of course, nothing about the contents of these cans will change. Isn’t it strange how a little bit of labeling can do so much?

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Adventures in Marketing: Wrigley’s Caffeinated ‘Energy Gum’

Wrigley's Alert Energy Caffeine GumDo you love caffeine but don’t want to get hooked on the Colombian bean or risk your health by chugging Monster and 5-Hour Energy? Well then Wrigley’s has the product for you: Alert Energy Gum! We always thought that the indisputable way to make anything more fun was to “add alcohol”, but that rule apparently now applies to caffeine as well.

This chewable jolt is hardly your grandma’s Doublemint or Juicy Fruit–it seems that brands like those just weren’t exciting enough for the demanding, limited-attention-span Millennial set, so Wrigley’s just had to give them more of what they love most: drugs! The company claims that Alert is designed for “consumers 25 and older who want a portable energy product that will let them control their caffeine consumption”, but we know better. (Also: this product is sadly not related to Stay Alert chewing gum, which is marketed specifically to members of the U.S. military.)

While those big drink brands face lawsuits and the city of Chicago considers banning drinks with more than 180 mg of caffeine per serving, energy addicts can just get their chew on as long as they don’t mind the “bitter, medicinal taste”. Our favorite part of the campaign rollout has to be this quote (from a company representative, no less):

“The taste expectations are different for someone who wants to chew gum for energy than for someone who chews gum for flavor. If you come at this as a piece of gum that you chew for enjoyment it’s not going to deliver on that.”

OK, so maybe it’s really not for the kids! But now we finally have a new twist on that classic “walking and chewing gum” question: can one chew Alert and drink Four Loko at the same time?

America’s Most Misleading Product Claims

POM WonderfulWe recently told you about the FTC’s crackdown on POM‘s “wonderful” health claims. But POM is by no means the only player in the how-far-can-we-push-this ad game. Now, via 24/7 Wall Street, we bring you a list of America’s most misleading product claims in recent memory (the list is theirs, the comments are ours).

1. Topping the list (surprise, surprise), is POM Wonderful and its promises that consumers could literally “cheat death” by sipping pomegranate juice out of a neat looking bottle. While the juice has been shown to provide some health benefits, the FTC found that POM’s claims were not substantiated by two randomized controlled trials — as required by law before such health claims can be made — and were therefore misleading and deceptive. But don’t feel too duped, America; we weren’t the first to be intrigued by pomegranates. Just ask Persephone.

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Bad PR: FDA Cites 5-Hour Energy in 13 Deaths

5-Hour EnergyIt’s tough to peddle caffeine these days unless you brew coffee, isn’t it? This week brought controversy over “Jack’d Cracker Jacks” while last month saw the FDA issue a report tying Monster Energy Drink to at least five deaths around the country. N0w we hear of yet another report linking the popular 5-Hour Energy drink to even more fatalities.

The 13 deaths cited in this story easily top the five blamed on Monster, and the details are even more troubling: the popular wake-up shot with the awful commercials was mentioned in approximately 90 filings since 2009 and linked to everything from heart attacks and tremors to “a spontaneous abortion”. We’ll bet everyone at distributor Living Essentials and its parent company Innovation Ventures just loves that phrase.

As expected, the FDA tempered its reports with conditional statements–and a Living Essentials rep defended the company by claiming to be “unaware of any deaths proven to be caused by the consumption of 5-Hour Energy.” The fact that regulatory authorities classify the product as a “dietary supplement” further complicates the issue.

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Little White Lies: What Good Are Fact Checkers Anyway?

Today in Negative Retail News, New York State’s attorney general is investigating the makers of popular caffeinated energy drinks like Amp, Monster and 5 Hour Energy for playing a little loose with their facts and ingredients. On the other side of the grid, nearly every opinionator across the board—and yes, that includes Fox News—has pointed out a series of glaring inaccuracies in the speech that Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan gave at his party’s convention last night (while also noting that his presentation was impressive and that he hit all the right notes for the home team).

How do these stories relate? They both highlight the role of the independent fact-checker, and they raise a series of questions about the value of accuracy and transparency in public relations. So:

  • Does the additional of “herbal supplements” like guarana allow 5-Hour Energy and Monster drinks to contain “undisclosed” amounts of caffeine large enough to raise eyebrows?
  • Are they particularly dangerous when paired with alcohol?
  • Are big soda makers like Pepsico and Coca-Cola downplaying the unhealthy aspects of their most popular get-up-and-go products?

And:

  • Did Paul Ryan serve as the best-known Republican representative on the bipartisan debt commission that he just excoriated President Obama for ignoring?
  • Did he in fact vote against the very proposal that he seemed to suggest the President should have followed?

The answer to all these questions is yes. But in the interests of the brands in question, does it even really matter?

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