POM Wonderful fires back at FTC

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POM Wonderful fires back at FTC
POM Wonderful fires back at FTC

Let the rumble begin! In the right corner we have the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In the left corner, we have beverages company POM Wonderful.

On Monday, May 21, Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell upheld an FTC complaint filed in 2010 declaring POM Wonderful had violated federal law, according to an FTC release. The ruling stated POM Wonderful made “deceptive claims in some advertisements that POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice and POMx supplements would treat, prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.”

The judge further barred POM Wonderful from making any claims about the benefits and efficacy of POM products “unless the claims are not misleading.”

In particular, the judge ruled the violations were serious because consumers were unable to evaluate whether the claims were true or supported by the clinical studies cited in the ads.

Today, POM Wonderful said the FTC's release announcing the ruling was deceptive and oversimplified. The company also fired back by launching a new advertising campaign, POM Truth,

“The FTC critically failed to mention that out of the 600 print and outdoor advertisements disseminated, the court found less than 2% of those misleading,” according to a POM Wonderful release.

The campaign features a microsite where POM Wonderful invites consumers to “be the judge” by reading a POM Wonderful release, downloading the judge's entire initial decision and viewing 14 different ads featuring statements directly from the ruling.

The ads will be featured in full-page advertisements in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, online, home-page takeovers of CNN, the Huffington Post.  They feature points such as POM Wonderful's $25 million medical research spend, its antioxidant benefits and statements directly from the FTC ruling that were not included in the FTC's release.

It seems it is the FTC's turn to make a move. How will the FTC respond? Is POM Wonderful violating the ruling by launching the new advertising campaign?    

I don't know, but it seems to be getting intense and I will be keeping an eye on this fight.

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