Consumer advocacy group disputes Coca-Cola legal case


Truth in Advertising claims Coca-Cola's proposed settlement over a class-action lawsuit for its Vitaminwater brand is of 'little benefit' to consumers

Another week, another soft-drink legal dispute.

In the same month that Red Bull agreed to pay $13 million over its slogan, Coca-Cola reached a preliminary settlement of a class-action lawsuit over deceptive labeling and marketing of its Vitaminwater brand.

But consumer advocacy group Truth in Advertising isn't happy with Coca-Cola’s settlement and on Tuesday filed an objection, Business Insider reports.

According to a statement from Truth in Advertising, the proposed settlement is of "little benefit" to consumers, who have been "deceived" by Coca-Cola’s marketing.

The lawsuit challenged the company’s marketing the drinks as a healthy alternative to soda by using "vitamin" prominently and including the phrase "nutrient-enhanced water beverage" on the label.

Under the proposed settlement terms, Coca-Cola will state the amount of calories per bottle of the product on the front label and also declare, in bold type, "See nutrition facts for more detail" on the  label. It also will refrain from making certain statements on the product's labeling and marketing regarding its effect on the body.  

"Under the terms of the agreement, the class members are to receive zero cash reimbursement," Truth in Advertising said. "Coca-Cola also gets to continue calling its product ‘Vitaminwater’ and can still market the sugary drink in a deceptive manner."

Red Bull was ordered to change its iconic "Red Bull gives you wings" slogan after a federal court ruled earlier this month that it amounted to "misleading advertising." The soft-drinks company agreed to pay U.S. residents who have bought one of its drinks $10 for failing to give them wings.

The Red Bull case was met with bemusement by many in the in advertising industry, who argued that the slogan was a metaphor.   

"The ruling by the U.S. court that Red Bull’s line ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ is misleading advertising is baffling," Jo Arden, head of strategy at 23Red, told Campaign. "Language is built on metaphor. To restrict its use in advertising undermines our craft and the intelligence of the majority to decipher what is literal and what is figurative."

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