BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Ocean Spray Discontinue Certain Claims

Advertising  Challenged by V8 Maker Campbell Soup; Ocean Spray to Appeal NAD Findings to NARB

New York, NY – May 22, 2012 – The National Advertising Division has recommended Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., discontinue certain implied claims for Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, including claims that the sodium content of a competing juice is alarmingly  high. The advertiser has said it will appeal NAD’s findings to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB.)

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Campbell Soup Company, maker of V8 Vegetable Juice, challenged Ocean Spray broadcast advertising that featured the company’s iconic cranberry growers in a cranberry bog, conducting a taste test between “Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice versus vegetable juice.”

One grower declares the Ocean Spray “tasty,” but stops short of drinking the vegetable juice when the other character states: “Now, the vegetable juice … with more than 10 times the sodium of cranberry juice.”

A simultaneous super appeared, noting the respective sodium content of the two drinks per 8 ounce serving: Cranberry: 35mg, 1% DV; Vegetable Juice*: 400+ mg, 18% DV – *excluding low sodium vegetable juice.

The character engaged in tasting the vegetable juice tips it into the bog and declares cranberry juice the winner.

Claims at issue in NAD’s review included:
• Ocean Spray has conducted a taste test showing that consumers think its cranberry juice tastes better than V8 vegetable juice.
• V8 vegetable juice has a dangerous or unhealthy amount of sodium.
• All varieties of V8 vegetable juice have 10 times more sodium than Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice.

Prior to NAD’s review, the advertiser voluntarily modified the disclosure to read “excluding low sodium vegetable juice”, avoiding the implication that the comparison being made is to all versions of vegetable juice.

NAD determined that – given the revised disclosure – the fact is that sodium is present in the challenger’s Original V8 juice at significantly higher levels than the advertiser’s juice is a message that is substantiated by the evidence and a message that the advertiser should be free to promote.

However, NAD determined that the depiction of one character pouring the vegetable juice into the bog upon learning of sodium content may overstate the significance of the sodium content. NAD concluded that the combination of the visual and accompanying language conveyed the potentially misleading message that V8 contains an alarming, if not unhealthy, level of sodium.  NAD recommended that in future advertisements, should the advertiser wish to highlight that its Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice contains “ten times” less sodium per serving than the challenger’s original vegetable juice, that it do so in a manner that does not falsely denigrate the challenger’s product.

Further, NAD found the advertiser’s evidence insufficiently reliable to support the implied superior taste message conveyed by its commercial and recommended that this claim be discontinued.

Ocean Spray, in its advertiser statement, said it will appeal NAD’s findings to the NARB.
“Ocean Spray also intends to appeal the NAD’s conclusion that the commercial communicates any false message that disparages V8 juice, especially considering: (1) the undisputed evidence advanced by Ocean Spray that a serving of original V8 contains an amount of sodium that may be of dietary concern to many consumers, and (2) the fact that the challenged commercial was created in response to a recent advertising campaign by Campbell’s that is at least equally disparaging of Ocean Spray products,” the company said.