Page last updated at 00:14 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 01:14 UK

Coke water adverts 'misleading'

Vitaminwater advert
The adverts ran on vans and posters

Advertisements for vitamin-enriched water made by Coca-Cola have been criticised by an industry watchdog.

Posters and leaflets on Vitaminwater had "misleading" claims about nutritional benefits, the Advertising Standards Authority said.

Slogans such as "more muscles than brussels" and "keep perky when you're feeling murky" were used.

The ASA rejected the drinks company's argument that the advertising was "humorous and irreverent".

Sick day joke

An advert for the "power-c" drink said: "Popeye had it easy.

"A can of spinach and he bulked up... the nutrients in this bottle won't enable you to walk on mud, or become a strapping sailor man, but they will help you beat your granny in an arm wrestle."

Another read: "If you've had to use sick days because you've actually been sick, then you're seriously missing out my friend.

"The trick is to stay perky and use sick days to just, erm, not go in."

Complaints were made about implications that the drinks were equivalent to vegetables and had health benefits such as raised energy levels and resistance to illness.

Two people also said that the adverts implied that the drinks were "healthy", even though they contained 4.6g of sugar per 100 ml.

'Brussels muscles'

Coca-Cola said the reference to "brussels" referred to the nickname for action film star Jean Claude Van Damme, known as "the Muscles from Brussels", not sprouts.

It said the "perky" reference just meant mood and consumers would not think that arm-wrestling their granny would need more energy.

But the ASA upheld the objections. It said of the power-c wording: "We noted that the word "brussels" was not capitalised and considered it was not clear from the ad, or its context, that the claim intended to refer to a well known actor.

"We considered that the claim was therefore ambiguous and likely to be interpreted by consumers... as a comparison between the nutritional benefit of the 'power-c' drink and the vegetable Brussels sprout."

The ASA also found that the drinks contained nearly a quarter of the recommended daily amount of sugar in 500ml but the publicity made it likely that consumers would think the products were "healthy".

The adverts must not be used again.

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