An ad for Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water has been banned for claiming that the drink is “nutritious” while containing up to five teaspoons of sugar, a watchdog said.
Three people complained that the poster for Vitamin Water was misleading for using the word “nutritious” in the catchline, while one of them understood each 500ml bottle contained more than 30g of sugar.
Coca-Cola said the product actually contained 23g of sugar per 500ml – “a significantly lower amount”.
Defending the 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”.
All varieties of the product contained the 23g of sugar per 500ml serving to deliver an energy density of 19 kcal/100 ml, which meant they qualified for the category of “low calorie” drinks under EU regulations, it added.
Upholding the complaints, the ASA said it considered that consumers would understand the word “nutritious” in the ad as a claim that Vitamin Water contained added ingredients that were needed by the body in order to stay healthy.
However, it added: “We considered that they would not expect a “nutritious” drink to have the equivalent of four or five teaspoons of added sugar.
“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.”
It ruled that the ad 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.”