NARB Recommends Ocean Spray Discontinue Broadcast Claims Challenged by Campbell

New York, NY – Dec. 6, 2012 – A National Advertising Review Board (NARB) panel has recommended that Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., discontinue claims challenged by Campbell Soup Company, maker of V8 Vegetable Juice.

NARB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Campbell had challenged before the National Advertising Division a 15-second commercial that featured Ocean Spray’s iconic cranberry growers in a cranberry bog, who said they were conducting a taste test between Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice and vegetable juice.

One grower declared the Ocean Spray “tasty,” but stopped short of drinking the vegetable juice when the other character stated: “Now, the vegetable juice … with more than 10 times the sodium of cranberry juice.”

The character engaged in tasting the vegetable juice tipped it into the bog and declared cranberry juice the winner.

NAD found that the challenged advertising conveyed a superior taste message, determined that testing submitted by Ocean Spray was flawed, and concluded that Ocean Spray did not provide a reasonable basis to support the superior taste message conveyed by the advertisement. Further, NAD found that the advertising conveyed the potentially misleading message that V8 contains an alarming level of sodium.

Ocean Spray appealed NAD’s findings to the NARB.

Following its review, the NARB panel recommended that Ocean Spray discontinue the implied superior taste message conveyed by the challenged advertisement.

While the panel acknowledged that Ocean Spray may truthfully advertise the difference in sodium content between cranberry juice and vegetable juice, the panel recommended that Ocean Spray do so in a manner that does not convey the message that the sodium level in a serving of vegetable juice is sufficiently high to raise health concerns.

Ocean Spray, in its advertiser’s statement, said it disagreed with the panel’s findings and was “disappointed with the NARB’s conclusion that either the taste preference claim (if implied at all) or the claim that the sodium content of Original V8 raises health concerns is not adequately substantiated.” Ocean Spray said it is not currently making either of these claims, and agreed to take the NARB’s conclusions regarding substantiation into consideration should it elect to do so in the future.