POM not so Wonderful.


Well this is interesting. The FTC sued POM Wonderful, everyone's favorite (and pretty much only) Pomegranate juice supplier, for what it deemed to be deceptive advertising. Apparently, POM was giving the wonderful fruit a little too much credit in treating, reducing etc. the health risks of varied complaints and maladies ranging from heart disease to erectile dysfunction. A judge issued a cease and desist in a 355 page decision. In other words, no mas on the health claims. Unless of course, they could prove it with what the judge called "competent and reliable evidence."

One would hope Pom had the sense to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new campaign. Nope. Pom decided to double down, with a new campaign called Pom Truth.

With a giant headline "FTC VS. POM You be the judge," the site goes on to attempt a justification of sorts by saying although they were indeed sued for misleading headlines, the judge found less than 2% of their ads to be misleading.

In addition to the non-misleading ads on the site, POM even supplies quotes from Judge Chappell's decision which seem to imply that he actually agrees with POM when it comes to pomegranate health benefits:

Competent and reliable scientific evidence supports the conclusion that the consumption of pomegranate juice and pomegranate extract supports prostate health, including by prolonging PSA doubling time in men with rising PSA after primary treatment for prostate cancer.
– Judge Chappell, Chief Administrative Law Judge, FTC
In the Matter of POM Wonderful LLC, Initial Decision (5/17/2012), page 282

But as was pointed out here , the following quote from the judge's conclusion, taken just after the one above, reads:

However, the greater weight of the persuasive expert testimony shows that the evidence relied upon by Respondents is not adequate to substantiate claims that POM products treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of prostate cancer or that they are clinically proven to do so. Indeed the authors of the Pantuck Study and the Carducci Study each testified that their study did not conclude POM Juice treats, prevents or reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

The judge then finished by saying without studies backing the claims up, and with some existing studies showing no benefits, the implied claim of being good for prostate cancer in particular misleading. As for the other maladies including erectile dysfunction? Studies will need to be conducted to reach any sort of conclusion.

It may be reasonable to assume with POM's decision to create this campaign (and still run the majority of its ads) they are flirting with disaster here.

If that's the case and they become an even bigger bone in the FTC's throat, then we can say without fear of an FTC lawsuit that pomegranates cause your cojones to grow a little too big.

about the author

kidsleepy 17 year copywriter, now CD, who has worked in many cities including Pittsburgh, New York, Atlanta, Montreal and currently Los Angeles. I snark because I care. I ain't complainin' I'm just tellin' it like it is.

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