The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a menu promotion from health food cafe and online retailer Juice Garden for implying that one of its products prevented, treated or cured disease. The company, which is based in my Birmingham and has two further outlets in Glasgow, allows customers to order fresh-pressed drinks either via its site or in-store. It all seems like a pretty benevolent enterprise, but it transpires that the brand provoked two complaints from an individual who took issue with the naming of a juice dubbed the “Flu Shot,” as well as the titles of several other products. The complainant took issue with a menu on the retailer's website which featured drinks with names like “Immune,” “Colon Cleanser” and “Shrink Me,” as well as the aforementioned “Flu Shot.” The consumer challenged whether the titles of the juices hinted at health claims about their nutritional value, and contested that the wording of “Flu Shot” implied that the juice prevented, treated or cured disease. It could all read as exceptionally banal bitching and moaning, of course, but in essence the complainer raises a valid point; where do we draw the line between playful wordplay and misleading marketing?
“The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim 'Flu Shot' to mean that the drink could help to prevent or treat flu infection. We considered the claim therefore implied that the drink prevented, treated or cured disease”
Juice Garden argued that it did not claim to cure or prevent disease, and that the claims in the menu related to the name of the drink, but the watchdog upheld the complaint and the ad for the drink must now never appear again in its current form. The regulator noted that giving items on the menu names like “Colon Cleanser” would imply to consumers that the drink held beneficial health effects, which were not backed up by any verifiable evidence. While the ASA recognised that the titles of the other juices hinted at more general health perks, these were still not accompanied by an authorised claim and as such still breached the code. Furthermore, the ASA has told Juice Garden to ensure it doesn't make any future claims that food or drink products could prevent, treat or cure disease. The company has also been warned not to make health claims unless they are authorised on the EU Register and not to make general health claims unless they are accompanied by a specific authorised health claim.