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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