Skip to main content
Responsible Marketing

VitaminWater or the CSPI: Who do you believe?

By February 6, 2009January 21st, 20225 Comments


The Coca-Cola Company is being sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest for deceptive claims regarding it’s VitaminWater product line.

Coke markets VitaminWater as a “healthful alternative to soda by labeling its several flavors with such health buzz words,” and claims they “variously reduce the risk of chronic disease, reduce the risk of eye disease, promote healthy joints, and support optimal immune function.”

The CSPI news release further asserts, “VitaminWater contains between zero and one percent juice, despite the full names of the drinks, which include “endurance peach mango” and “focus kiwi strawberry,” and “xxx blueberry pomegranate acai,” among others. A press release for the “xxx” drink claims its antioxidants makes the drinker “last longer” in some unspecified way; in any event, it has no blueberry, pomegranate, or acai juice, nor do the others have any cranberry, grapefruit, dragon fruit, peach, mango, kiwi, or strawberry juice.”

Here’s Coke’s response to the CSPI lawsuit:

This is a ridiculous and ludicrous lawsuit. glacéau vitaminwater is a great tasting, hydrating beverage with essential vitamins and water, with labels showing calorie content.

Filing a lawsuit is an opportunistic PR stunt. This is not about protecting the public interest. This is about grandstanding at a time when CSPI is receiving very little attention. There is no surprise that one week before the inauguration of the U.S. President, with the flurry of activity in Washington, D.C., that CSPI has chosen today to try to bring attention to themselves.

We don’t need a “healthful” alternative to sodas. All our beverages, including sparkling and diets, can be part of healthful diet. Furthermore, consumers today are aware and are looking for more from their beverages than just hydration. Products like glacéau vitaminwater provide a great tasting choice for hydration that also helps contribute to daily needs for some essential nutrients.

Consumers can readily see the nutrition facts panels on every bottle of glacéau vitaminwater, which show what’s in our product and what’s not. The success of glacéau vitaminwater is due in large part to consumers looking for a product like this to help support their healthy, active and on-the-go lifestyle.

Put simply, glacéau vitaminwater is a great complement to our often less-than-perfect diet with each of the different glacéau vitaminwater varieties providing a convenient, great-tasting way to get more of some of the vitamins and hydration we all need each day.

Public opinion on the topic is polarized, as you might expect.

So who do you believe? VitaminWater or the CSPI?

Is VitaminWater responsible or not?

Subscribe to this feed.

. . .
Image: The Coca-Cola Company

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Big business is fully aware of its deception and misleading advertising. It is also aware that the majority of people will not understand their labeling..potential benefits or lack thereof. If a reputable business ‘suggests’ its healthy, whether it is or isnt, consumers will buy into it. The tell all of their friends that theyve made a healthy choice.

    It will never change.

  • Two things. First, Coke has a record of deception, including the repackaging of Atlanta city tap water as Dasani. Take Georgia groundwater and call it “Dasani”? Is it from some spring high in the Italian Alps? Nope, cayme frum Paychtray Crayk just wayst of Dalton.

    Secondly, note their very carefully crafted response. What’s the very first thing they lead with when they describe the product? “Great-tasting.” As if to say that’s the main thing that matters, because in their minds, it IS…they believe taste will draw consumers regardless of the realities of the drink’s contents.

    The rest are almost comical. A “hydrating beverage” – something that can be said about any liquid. “With essential vitamins and water” – sure, there are microscopic amounts of vitamins in the 1% that is juice – and it’s “healthy” to drink water, right? And “consumers looking for a product like this to help support their healthy, active and on-the-go lifestyle.” What are we, baby cats? “On the go”?!?!? That actually made me laugh out loud.

    Let’s also try to discredit the source by calling into question their integrity and intentions. Classic.

    Coke continues to disappoint me, which is why I no longer buy their products. If they’re willing to deceive me, their bad. If I’m willing to put up with it because of the “great taste”, my bad.

  • Great points, Eric and Kimberly.

    I’m glad I’m not a lifelong Coke fan — some of their actions leave me wondering.

    I was a Pepsi guy until about four years ago when I decided to stop caffeine, avoid Aspartame and drink more water. At the time, RC was the only cola you could buy with Splenda. I buy their product because they offer an option that fills my needs, not because of their marketing.

    Go figure.

    Thanks for weighing in.

  • Shava Nerad says:

    The primary ingredient in VitaminWater is crystalline fructose. This is the all-fructose distillate of high fructose corn syrup, which has come into some controversy over metabolic effects. The quart bottles say that each serving is 50 calories — and contain 4 of them.

    Although there is a bit of vitamin content, there’s certainly not much more than you’d find in a glass of milk or fruit juice, which would have other health benefits.

    But if you really want vitamin water? Drink a glass of water (or get a re-useable stainless steel canteen), take a vitamin supplement, and don’t pay the money or burden the environment with this stuff.

    Yes, the marketing is desceptive, and the social cost could be moderate to high depending on how the corn fructose controversy works out.

  • Stop Whining says:

    I agree with Coke, the labels are clearly marked and consumers have a choice in what they purchase, nobody is holding a gun to their head. Coca-Cola is a convenient target for supposed “public interest” groups, there is plenty of beverages on the market that are far worse than Vitaminwater but there is no lawsuit against them. When is a “public interest” group going to go after a company like Frito Lay, which produces nothing remotely healthy but never comes under attack.

Leave a Reply