UK

Advert for Coca-Cola Vitamin Water 'misled public'

  • 19 January 2011
  • From the section UK
Billboard advert for Coca-Cola's Vitamin Water
Image caption Coca-Cola said it was disappointed with the ruling

A Coca-Cola advert that labels one of its drinks "nutritious" is misleading, the advertising watchdog has ruled.

The company said its Vitamin Water was "nutritious" because it contains 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C as well as other vitamins.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the public "would not expect" a "nutritious" drink to have the equivalent of up to five teaspoons of added sugar and banned the advert.

Coca-Cola said it was "disappointed".

Three people complained to the ASA that a poster for Vitamin Water was misleading for using the word "nutritious" in the catchline, while one of them believed each 500ml bottle to contain more than 30g of sugar.

Coca-Cola said Vitamin Water actually contained 23g of sugar per 500ml - "a significantly lower amount".

Defending its use of the word "nutritious", Coca-Cola said the product contained "nutritionally meaningful quantities of several nutrients including 25% of the recommended daily allowance of four B vitamins (B6, B12, niacin and pantothenic acid) along with 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C".

It said all varieties of the drink contained 23g of sugar per 500ml serving, thus qualifying for the category of "low calorie" under EU regulations.

But, in upholding the complaints, the ASA said it considered that consumers would understand the word "nutritious" as a claim that Vitamin Water contained added ingredients that were needed by the body in order to stay healthy.

The ruling said: "Because Vitamin Water contained about a quarter of a consumer's GDA (guideline daily amount) for sugar as well as the added vitamins, we considered that the description of Vitamin Water as 'nutritious' was misleading."

'Transparent'

The watchdog ruled that the advertisement should not appear again in its current form.

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said: "We have always been completely transparent that the drinks contain 23g of sugar in each 500ml bottle, which has been prominently labelled on pack since launch.

"We do not believe that this detracts from the vitamin and mineral content of the drinks.

"We are therefore disappointed with the ASA's decision to uphold three consumer complaints based on a difference in opinion over the use of the word 'nutritious'.

"The reference to 'nutritious' featured in one advert that appeared last summer."

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