5 Hour Energy Marketing Claims Criticized by Advertising Watchdog

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By: Irvin Jackson | Published: January 7th, 2013

A prominent advertising watchdog group is challenging the famous marketing claim that 5-Hour Energy provides “no crash” later, indicating that the manufacturers of the energy shots have known for years that the claim is unfounded and that they have misused comments made by the group regarding the advertising statement. 

The criticism has been brought by the National Advertising Division (NAD), a part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. According to a recent report by the New York Times, the group recently said that Living Essentials, the makers of 5-Hour Energy, has misrepresented statements the NAD made about the drink’s “no crash” claim and indicates that it is now relaunching a review of the claim.

The 5 Hour Energy marketing statements indicate that the drink provides “hours of energy now – no crash later,” suggesting that users will not experience the sudden drop in energy typically associated with other high-caffeine energy drink products.

According to NAD, there is data that disproves the claim, which is at least five years old. NAD has threatened to use the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to bring false advertising charges against the company.

Concerns Over Energy Drink Safety and Marketing Practices

The energy drink industry has come under increased scrutiny in recent months, as concerns mount about the potential health risks associated with the products and various marketing claims that encourage young users to consume large quantities of the highly caffeinated beverages.

Most of the recent media attention has come following the a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the makers of Monster Energy Drinks, which alleged that the popular beverage caused the death of a 14-year old girl, who died after drinking two cans of Monster in a 24 hour period.

According to information released in recent weeks by the FDA, there have been at least 13 deaths linked to 5 Hour Energy Shots and four deaths linked to Monster Energy Drinks.  In addition, side effects of Rockstar Energy Drinks have been cited in at least 13 non-fatal adverse event reports submitted to the FDA in recent years.

In November 2012, the City of San Francisco asked for documents to support marketing claims made in connection with Monster Energy Drinks, which suggested that users can “can never get too much of a good thing!” It has been suggested that the statement may run afoul of California laws, which make it illegal for companies to make misleading advertising claims that are not supposed by clinical data.

Late last year, U.S. Congressman Edward J. Markey, from Massachusetts, called on the FTC to investigate the marketing practices associated with many popular energy drinks, indicating that they raise particular concern because they are targeted primarily to children and teenagers.

Prior research has suggested that caffeine overdose can result in heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias and death after doses ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams, and many products contain over 200 milligrams in each can.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that children should not consumer any energy drinks, as the risk of caffein overdose may be especially harmful for children, who should not consumer more than 100 mg of caffeine in a day. Most energy drinks currently on the market contain more than that amount and some have nearly three times as much.

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