UK billboard adverts proclaiming pomegranate juice could ‘cheat death’ have been deemed misleading and must not appear again, according to the voluntary advertising body there.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against the ad which contained a bottle of the juice of global pomegranate juice leader, POM Wonderful, and a cut hangman's noose.
ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form, after it received 23 complaints from the public. A POM Wonderful UK spokesperson told NutraIngredients.com the ads were pulled late last year.
The POM Wonderful superjuice ad contained the phrase: "Cheat death. The antioxidant power of pomegranate juice", and while ASA acknowledged there was no intention on the part of Pom Wonderful to deliberately mislead or “make an objective claim about longer life”, it still found the ad problematic.
“We concluded that the claim was ambiguous and if read as a health claim, rather than an obvious untruth, it was capable of objective substantiation,” ASA ruled.
“We considered the evidence submitted by POM Wonderful to support the antioxidant benefits of pomegranate juice but concluded that it fell short of showing any direct relation between consuming the product and a longer life.”
POM Wonderful’s Californian parent issued a statement yesterday in response to the ruling that questioned the ASA’s logic.
“We respectfully disagree with their conclusion that our ad ‘Cheat Death’ was misleading,” the company said, highlighting the clinically proven benefits of consuming high-antioxidant fruit and vegetables, such as pomegranate. It had contributed $30m towards such research, it said.
“We are confident that consumers who read these ads understand that we are using puffery to communicate a simple point. Consumers know that our product does not claim to deliver eternal life or a surefire cure from disease; however, they do appreciate the humour with which we deliver the simple message: "if you believe in a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, try POM because it is truly the antioxidant superpower."
But, “in the spirit of continuously improving the clarity of communications, we have agreed to not run our ‘Cheat Death’ advertisement in its current form in the UK.”
POM Wonderful noted that the fact the ad appeared in the form of a billboard which permitted only brief viewing times by potential consumers, meant the message had to be “short and literal”.
Sophisticated claims or carefully-crafted nuances were not appropriate for billboards, POM Wonderful said, adding the claim of immortality was “an obvious untruth” and “never meant to be taken seriously.”
Pomegranate juice has been shown to benefit the immune system and some studies have highlighted its potential to ease erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer’s.