My office recently contracted with a new food vending service for our break room that appeared to offer a variety of healthy foods. But a quick scan of nutrition facts revealed how much sugar they contain. The raspberry yogurt parfait had a whopping 70 grams of sugar; the Naked Juice Green Machine, 35.
In other words, most of the food and beverages were wolves in sheep's clothing, pretending to be healthy when they were basically sugar cubes disguised as health food.
Given that Naked Juice is owned by PepsiCo, I shouldn't have been surprised the "vegetable" juice contained as much sugar as a fizzy glass of cola.
Which is why the often misguided Center for Science in the Public Interest has it right this time by filing a class action lawsuit against Naked Juice for intentionally deceiving the public on the nutrition value of its juices.
|Courtesy of CSPI website|
Having reading the full complaint by CSPI (download pdf here), the problem is not just that Naked Juice sells what amounts to cheap, sugary fruit juice, it's that the company intentionally tricks consumers into thinking they are drinking something healthy by using trendy buzz words and images on its label that are psychologically linked to good health.
The complaint states, "PepsiCo does this by naming each Naked beverage after a food or ingredient perceived by consumers to be highly nutritious, like kale, and filling its labels with photographs of these same ingredients."
|Has there ever been a better example |
of the Emperor Has No Clothes
than Naked Juice?
The above quote refers to Naked Juice's Kale Blazer, a beverage that exploits the health halo of kale to hawk a drink whose first and third ingredients are orange juice and apple juice, respectively.
Yes, despite the fact two of the first three ingredients are sugary fruit juices, the bottle depicts only kale, cucumbers, spinach and celery on the label, attempting to hide the orange and apple juice like a crazy aunt in the attic.
As the CSPI complaint points out, "Although Kale Blazer is predominantly orange juice, it is not named 'orange juice with kale and apple juice,' or 'orange juice with kale and apple flavors,' nor does the label
predominantly show oranges and apples."
Instead, the Kale Blazer label features the words veggies and dark leafy goodness to imply that is what the juice mainly contains instead of -- that's right, cheap, sugary fruit juice.
|Would you guess from this label |
the product is mostly
sugary fruit juice?
On branding website Brand Channel, Andrea Theodore, one of Naked's chief marketing honchos, said young people in the juice brand's target market are willing to pay more for the product based on the perception the juice is good for their health.
"They believe that foods and beverages are part of what is going to help them live long and vibrantly. Because of that, they’re willing to spend more. There’s value in [the Naked Juice brand proposition]. It’s worth its weight in gold and resonates with these consumers because we have the same values they have."
Which begs the question of which values Pepsi and its target market -- millennials -- have in common: hoodwinking people? taking advantage of ignorance? fleecing consumers?
The perception of optimizing health and energy is deliberately fostered by Naked Juice marketers down to the dark green, leafy vegetables on the label of what is essentially cheap fruit juice. It's what some product designers call a "dark pattern," a form of deceptive marketing that deliberately creates a false impression to get people to behave against their best interest. The strategy hinges on what Harry Brignull, Ph.D. calls "cognitive biases" for consumers to construct their own “subjective social realities.”
How else could you explain paying two or three times as much for apple juice disguised as a health potion?
The crux of the CSPI lawsuit is not that Naked Juice is selling an unhealthy product, it's that the company is deliberately deceiving consumers into thinking their unhealthy product is healthy and then charging them a premium for the privilege.