Last week, one of the boldest direct response campaigns went live.
* Print ads in The New York and LA Times.
* Banners on the home pages of CNN, The Huffington Post and The New York Times.
* And a website counterattacking an injunction by the Federal Trade Commission by using the very statements of the Chief Administrative Law Judge as ringing product endorsements.
The average direct response advertiser would never dare such a campaign.
But pomegranate juice maker, Pom Wonderful, is not run by your average DR operators.
The owners of the company are California billionaires, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, who built Teleflora and Fiji Water into behemoths. They also took over the Franklin Mint, founded by the venerable direct response player, Joseph Segel.
And with revenues soaring above $165 million per year, in part thanks to print and billboard advertising like the one above, Pom is in a unique position to take on the regulatory powers that be.
The banners which hit the homepages of massively trafficked websites last week drove visitors to their website, www.PomTruth.com.
The headline on their landing page: FTC v. POM You be the judge.
And here’s the lead:
You may have heard that the Federal Trade Commission sued POM Wonderful for false and misleading advertising on grounds that science did not support POM’s health claims. But what you as a consumer of POM need to know is that the FTC judge agreed that POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx do provide significant health benefits. Here is what the judge said in his own words.“Competent and reliable scientific evidence supports the conclusion that the consumption of pomegranate juice and pomegranate extract supports prostate health, including by prolonging PSA doubling time in men with rising PSA after primary treatment for prostate cancer.”– Judge Chappell, Chief Administrative Law Judge, FTC
In the Matter of POM Wonderful LLC, Initial Decision (5/17/2012), page 282
You can find just about every conceivable major advertising claim related to health in the collection of print ads on the left sidebar, “See the Ads for Yourself.”
The battle between Pom Wonderful and the FTC should get very interesting over the next few months and will likely trigger a wider discussion about The Dietary Supplement Act.
What impact this has on direct response advertisers is anyone’s guess.
(Note: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on the Internet. I’m looking at this purely from a direct response advertiser’s point of view… and frankly as an admirer of someone with the cajones to poke a stick in the eye of the FTC.)
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Justin Eckrich says
This is almost as good as Obama’s DR marketing…
If you want some really solid swipe files, go to Obama’s campaign and sign up for his email blasts.
I’m not for Obama at all, but the value in those emails is priceless.
Douglas Robert says
Another great post, Lawrence. Gotta admire POM Wonderful for not backing down and putting a positive spin on a negative event.
My question is this: Is the FTC truly acting to protect the interests of consumers, or is “big pharma” pulling the strings?
I hope POM doesn’t back down and continues their approach. Where I’d like to see the FTC go is truth in advertising on political campaigns.
How many promises and claims has Obama not lived up to? How many did Bush fail at? Is the new Healthcare bill really going to save money? Will you be able to keep your DR? Etc. Etc. From green energy to global warming and unemployment figures… the FTC rules should apply to ALL advertising and claims. Not just in the private sector.
I second Justin. Government approved swipe files!
And I’m glad someone is standing up to the FTC. Way to go, keeping gov’t in check. To FTC: Booya fooyas!
Jared Kimball says
I love how it breaks down the FTC and adds contradiction into the mix.
POM is walking a fine line between advertising and the federal group that regulates them…
Dennis, just brilliant!
That would definitely make the FTC worth the budget.
Thanks for the laugh, Dennis.
An honest politician?
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, oh my. Chuckles. 🙂
Roger Haeske says
That is really cool what POM is doing.
I’m so glad they’re taking it to the FTC. Hope they kick some corrupt FTC rumpus.
Thanks for sharing this Lawrence,
The 44-Year Old Teenager
Thank you Lawrence for your post. These are very different ads from what we see in our daily press in Switzerland (90% of them are dead boring). Speaking of pomegranate juice-it HAS a very high power to strengthen and clean the blood & other health benefits so, POM’s claims in their ads are trustworthy. Probably the FTC will lose the case against POM.
Lawrence Bernstein says
It’s interesting that before Pom Beautiful hit the shelves, (and I do buy it from time to time) supposedly only 4% of Americans knew what a pomegranate is.
Hard to believe.
Across 16 time zones of Russia, pomegranates and pomegranate juice are sold and it’s widely believed to have a wide range of health properties.
Dr. Carney says
Great post Lawrence. I love pomegranate and this stuff is amazing, just like they say, but you have to do your research to understand the power behind what it does and how it does it. I know and am currently working with a man that had a 25 million a month product but the FTC came in and shut him down. He didn’t have the resources that these people have and when it all comes down to the nitty gritty, it’s the MONEY. Pure and simple, but hey if you’re a marketing person, or just a regular Joe Smoe, you know it doesn’t take long to figure out it’s all about the MONEY. Great post.
Lance Lovelady says
Why did the FTC shut him down then? Surely with that amount of product sold a month he could fight them?
That is the same mount of sales POM is doing based on what you mentioned….
This is superb! The FTC is a joke and I LOUDLY applaud POM Wonderful for taking a stand against the insanity and corruption that is the FTC. And since PW will likely get fined highly for their actions, they are wise to extract an “ROI” from it.
It would be wonderful if the FTC would actually do their job of protecting Americans instead of trying to enforce the foolish notion that only drugs can cure disease.
Also good coverage of this FTC lunacy here: http://www.naturalnews.com/032534_POM_Wonderful_FTC.html
Yeah, I support Pom 100%
The FTC or may I say (federal thug commission) needs to covertly stop making attempts to loot money from thriving true American Business. And get their rears in gear and create their own wealth.
So the winner is POM.
Yes now they will get a bigger market after this marketing campaign you were talking about and no doubt they got a lot of free publicity after the case in court.