This week “Big Red” (Coca-Cola) took a beating in the Supreme Court from no other than “little red” or (P♥M Wonderful) about juice that contained a lot less pomegranate than was claimed. (You can read more about this case in the link below )
We admit we side with “David” here: the husband-and-wife agribusiness team who took a strange fruit that was a real mess to eat and transformed it into a convenient juice favorite (becoming billionaires in the process, of course.) “Goliath” then comes along and taps into the wonderfulness.
This case takes us back to that powerful feeling as young AEs on “Big Blue” (Pepsi) business whenever we got a chance to bash “Big Red.” We even helped our clients host an annual event for this very purpose, bringing in the beefiest DSRs for a boozy (Cuba Libres, anyone?) contest with a prize for whoever could smash a Coke vending machine with a sledgehammer the fastest. (Note this was post-Mad Men era…but obviously not too far ahead of Cro-Magnon Man.)
While the verdict is still out on how the potentially-landmark P♥M vs. Coke case will ultimately affect labeling, we marketers always look at these with great interest and no small amount of fear.
We’ve posted previously about how we can squeeze through the legal gates with what we say to help our client’s product stand apart. On the flip side, we also mentioned how the once-magical term “natural” is now rendered limp from overuse.
Both the FDA and USDA are touchy regarding nutritious claims, so food marketers have always avoided even nebulous statements like “…with plenty of Vitamin C!” “Plenty” needs to correlate to a specific gram or percentage.
The P♥M folks did their homework, though, spending millions on scientific and consumer research to prove that pomegranates were really a nutritional powerhouse. Absent this kind of support, copywriters have been forced to resort to colorful but unmeasurable terms such as “Chock-full!”.
In summary, the key marketing lesson here is that while smaller brands may fear mislabeling mistakes the most, typically it’s #1 who gets smashed with the sledgehammer.
(Read more re P♥M vs. Coke here)