The FTC Takes the Bull by the Horns

Bull BeverageToday I’d like to show you an example of why it’s important (legally) to be truthful in your marketing and having substantiation to back up any claims you make in your promotional materials.

The FTC Takes On Red Bull

It’s not just us “little guys/gals” who get in trouble with the FTC. The company that markets the Red Bull energy drink had to settle a claim with the FTC a few years ago for $13 million.

Red Bull claimed its product had a “unique combination of high quality ingredients.” The Red Bull website claimed scientific studies proved that consuming the product:

  • Increases performance
  • Increases concentration and reaction speed
  • Improves vigilance
  • Stimulates metabolism
  • Makes you feel more energetic and thus improves your overall well-being

So, What’s the Problem?

The problem is that the “energy boost” one receives from drinking Red Bull comes not from some mysterious combination of ingredients but rather from the sugar and caffeine it contains, and in relation to similar products Red Bull only contains modest amounts of caffeine.

Red Bull contains 80 mg per can. Rockstar, another energy drink, contains twice that, and the little 5-hour Energy shots contain 208 mg.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. None of the energy drinks compared to coffee in the quantities it is now sold. A Starbucks venti contains 415 mg of caffeine.

Oh, and as far as those “scientific studies” Red Bull claimed to have to back up the claimed benefits for its product – beyond studies showing the effects of caffeine, there apparently were none. Oops!

The point is, whether you’re a multi-national corporation or a work-from-home entrepreneur, you can’t just throw wild claims about the efficacy of your product out into the marketplace.

You must be careful and honest with each representation you make in your marketing efforts.