I always laugh on the bus ride home when I see ads claiming to be (for instance) “the BEST comedy club in town.” It highlights the difference in strictness of each industry for marketing claims.
During my limited time thus far in brand management for consumer packaged goods (CPG), I’ve already spent a vast share of my time meeting with lawyers and regulators. In extremely competitive marketing environments, such as personal care or packaged foods products, regulation is extremely tight on what claims can or can’t be made. Generally, you can trust the label more than any other marketing materials. This is because their competition will be the first one to pounce if they’ve claimed something remotely into the grey area, which would cost the company millions in recalls if it was on the actual packaging. Thus packaging will have the most conservative claims.
In CPG, superiority competitive claims needs to be backed up by very expensive research that must be accessible if requested, and describe exactly when and how the data was accurate. If the competitor were to make just a 0.1% change to the related product in question, then you’d no longer be able to make that claim without running another expensive study. The strictness will also vary depending on how much a false claim could potentially harm the consumer. i.e.: health claims versus flavour claims.
For example, one company saying it lasts 24H while the competition says 8H is a very big deal. That means that the company has spent a lot of time and money on ingredients and tests to prove that claim. They’re now willing to take a stand to protect that claim as a differentiator. Ironically, consumers may not even notice the difference on the packaging.
But when the actual name of the a food item is based on flavouring rather than a substantial amount of the real ingredient, I definitely question whether we’re protecting the consumers enough. This case between POM and Coca-Cola may well set what that bar is by determining if the FDA rules should be the floor or the ceiling for food claims—the base minimum, or the sole requirement. Does Coca-Cola have the right to claim it’s a pomegranate and blue-berry beverage based on its taste, when it only contains 0.3% of the ingredient? We’ll soon find out.
So after spending my day talking with lawyers about which claims can or can’t be made about a particular underarm deodorant, you can see why why I laugh when I read “the BEST comedy club in town.” In my industry they’d be asking “On which day did they conduct the study? What was the market research methodology and sample size? Were the results statistically significant? How can they prove that this is true consistently from night to night?”
Marketing is truly unique from industry to industry.