Energy Drink Industry’s Latest Crisis: Time to Go On Offense?

As 2012 came to a close the energy drink industry suffered a major jolt. In October, it was reported that the Monster Energy drink might have contributed to five deaths, possibly due to caffeine overdose. Then, in November, a report stated that the 5-Hour Energy drink may have led to 13 deaths in the past four years,

Response to the crises by both Living Essentials, maker of 5-Hour Energy, and Monster was by the book—each vigorously defending their product.

Today, however, the industry as a whole received another wake-up call: an article in The New York Times questioning the promises made of the products by drink manufacturers. "Energy Drinks Promise Edge, but Experts Say Proof Is Scant" cites researchers' views and scientific studies and concludes that the drinks are nothing more than "caffeine-fueled concoctions" and not "specially engineered blends that provide something more."

In the article, a 5-Hour Energy spokesperson provided some awkward responses to the reporter's questions, referring to the possible release of a new study that actually began five years ago.

With this new inquiry by the Times, the energy-drink industry might not be able to afford a defensive stance much longer. It may have to formulate an effective, industry wide communications offense, or at least damper product claims to try to stem negative product perceptions. The article should also prod the energy-drink industry to dial up their media relations efforts. Otherwise, they could see their companies start to fizzle.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01

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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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  • Bill

    Too much caffeine can cause irregular heart rhythm and possible cardiac event. People have to treat it like the drug that it is.