Today in Put Your Clothes Back On news: we can add Naked Juice to the quickly growing line of foodstuff brands settling class-action lawsuits over deceptive health claims. Parent brand PepsiCo clearly missed the message about transparency being the best PR practice around, effectively admitting in the settlement that its “all natural” marketing claims are less than 100% accurate.
We’re not talking pasteurization here, people: the smoothie fakers include such “unnaturally processed and synthetic” ingredients as zinc oxide, ascorbic acid, and calcium pantothenate, all of which sound better suited to a meth lab than an orange grove (insert your Breaking Bad shout out here). In fact, that last one is derived from formaldehyde, to which we say: ewww, man. Ewww.
The juice may taste good, and it’s a hell of a lot healthier than much of the stuff we shove into our faces on a regular basis, but it’s hardly the “freshest” or the “purest” thing around, no?
Laugh at Pepsi’s indecent exposure all you want, but this opposite world “Emperor’s New Clothes” story really came about because “natural” is a classic marketing weasel word that doesn’t mean much of anything at all. It’s true that the FDA can’t seem to make up its mind about labeling standards, but let’s face it: the only food that’s truly “natural” is the tomato you grew in your backyard. And it’s not like Naked is the only offender. The same attorney who filed this juice suit way back in 2011 also accused Kashi, aka Edible Cardboard & Company, of using synthetic elements in its products while proclaiming their nutritional properties to anyone within earshot and participating in a non-profit group called The Non-GMO Project.
Someone call Gwyneth Paltrow; this story smells goopy.
“Nothing to hide” is great copy, but in retrospect it wasn’t the smartest tagline to use. It’s simple, really: you can’t build a brand around a series of claims that won’t hold up in court. Why is this lesson so hard to learn?