Judge Deems Pom Wonderful Not as Wonderful

Just the sound of the word "pomegranate" oozes health.

Yet on Monday, May 21, a judge issued a cease-and-desist order against the Pom Wonderful in making unsupported claims that its juice reduced the risks of heart disease, impotence and prostate cancer. The case had been going on for two years, ever since the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Pom Wonderful alleging that the company had engaged in false and misleading advertising.

But while a New York Times article points out that the judge's order "appears to place limits on even modest claims," Pom was claiming—with considerable PR aplomb—a victory. Its press release headline on the matter reads: “COURT AFFIRMS POM’S RIGHT TO INFORM THEIR CONSUMERS OF PRODUCTS’ HEALTH BENEFITS."

What Pom doesn't say is that it must back up specific claims like reducing the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer or erectile dysfunction with scientific evidence, which it failed to do in its advertising.

Pom did win on a couple of fronts: The judge denied the FTC's effort to have POM get its products approved by the Food and Drug Administration. And not all of its advertising is questionable. But whether or not Pom Wonderful's strategy to put positive spin on a mostly negative court ruling is a healthy move has yet to be determined.

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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