Posted by Linda Bonvie
February 14, 2013
Is it juice? Soda? An energy drink? According to the marketing minds at PepsiCo, Kickstart, the soon-to-be-released beverage is none of the above. Instead it’s a fresh and exciting “entirely new way to do mornings.”
Now if your idea of how to “do mornings” is to down some high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and some unpronounceable ingredients such as sodium hexametaphosphate and glycerol ester of rosin, this could be the drink you’ve been waiting for.
Scheduled for a nationwide launch on the 25th of February, Kickstart will make its debut in two flavors, “orange citrus” and “fruit punch,” and with the addition of a whopping five percent fruit juice, PepsiCo is hoping to keep the beverage out of the controversial energy-drink category by referring to it simply as a “breakfast drink.”
According to the Associated Press, “PepsiCo claims Kickstart, which is carbonated, is also not a soda because its five percent juice content qualifies it to be considered a ‘juice drink’ under guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration.” The AP also quoted a spokeswoman for the FDA as saying the agency doesn’t have definitions for what qualifies as either a soda or an energy drink.
Kickstart is certainly not the only beverage out there referred to as a “juice drink” that contains miniscule amounts of fruit juice. Any product that goes by the description “beverage,” “drink” or “cocktail” can contain as little as one percent juice. And if it’s less that that, it gets demoted to being called a “flavored” drink. (Something called a “punch” can be just about anything, since the FDA hasn’t bothered to define that term at all.)
An excess of early-morning metaphors
If you read the Kickstart press release, however, you might think this is the greatest new breakfast innovation since sliced bread for making toast. Employing extravagant descriptions ranging from a “fresh alternative to the age old morning question of ‘coffee or juice,’” to help in “catching the first waves at sunrise…or hitting fresh powder on the slopes at first light,” PepsiCo is even offering you a chance to be included in what it calls a “chasing sunrise” video.
But despite the addition of a small bit of grape or orange juice and vitamins C and B, all the fanciful hype devoted to Kickstart won’t transform it into some some amazing new health drink. Usually there’s something they’re hiding under all that labeling lingo, and you won’t find it on the product’s splashy Facebook page.
If you think Kickstart’s copy is a bit too fancy for what the beverage actually contains, consider that while certain health claims are subject to censure by the FDA, companies are otherwise free to indulge in all kinds of imaginative imagery in describing product benefits – that is, until they’re successfully sued by one or more consumers for deliberately misleading them.
Last spring, for example, the sweet, nut and chocolate spread Nutella was taken to court by a California mom who claimed she was misled by Nutella advertising stating it can be part of an “easy, balanced breakfast.” Crazy, you say? Well the court didn’t think so, sending her home with over $3 million (the bulk of which was divided among other such deceived consumers).
So while the new Kickstart drink may have ad copywriters working really hard to convert this chemical concoction into a healthier way to start the day, anyone who bothers to read the ingredient statement will know what it really it. And if any of those consumers are still confused – well, they can always take it to court.