False Advertising on Enhanced Water Labels: An Analysis of Ackerman v. The Coca Cola Company, p. 195-198

Natasha T. Brison

The U.S. carbonated soft-drink market posted a 2.1% volume decline in 2009, according to trade publication Beverage Digest (O’Leary, 2010). This was the fifth consecutive yearly decline for this market, and corporations have credited the loss to Americans choosing to seek bottled water as a healthier alternative to carbonated soft-drinks. In an effort to combat decreasing sales, corporations have developed products in the nutrient-enhanced water category. These enhanced waters are fortified with vitamins and nutrients, and tout health benefits beyond mere hydration. For example, these brands claim to rejuvenate and replenish the human body with essential vitamins and minerals, and some even advertise ingredients aimed at actual ailments. The most popular of these brands is the Coca- Cola Company’s (Coca-Cola) Vitaminwater, which boasts a more than 50% market share in the noncarbonated beverage category. Even with the recession, sales of Vitaminwater rose an estimated 37% in 2007-2008 (Elliott, 2009). Much of Vitaminwater’s success can be attributed to Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising efforts.