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Sucked In By A Slogan

By Jocelyn Geboy in Food on May 23, 2007 5:57PM

We don't normally run out and buy things just because we see them on commercials. There have been two recent exceptions to that rule (way thumbs up and fairly disappointing), but for the most part, we just wish we had a DVR.

However, there was one marketing campaign that hooked us from the start. Even though we knew we were being scammed from the first, we couldn't help it. It was just too damned catchy. And we just wanted to believe. "Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar." The Splenda slogan of hope. A sweetener that tastes like sugar and that comes from sugar but that has no calories. Wonderful. In the potential words of Homer Simpson ... "Mmmmm. Fake plastic sugar ...."

2007_05splenda.jpgWe know when something sounds ridiculously too good to be true, it usually is just that. We had been railing on the cancerousness of all things diet and how we completely distrusted any of the blue or pink sweeteners (you can't fool us with your swirly logos that look like candy!). But we just wanted to put as much Splenda into our tea as we could. We wanted to ignore that they were transforming sugar by putting chlorine molecules into it and just believe that yes, this was the fake sweetener that was going to turn the tide and be just perfect because it came from a natural substance. Sugar!

And it was just that sort of irrational logic that the makers of Equal, the Chicago-based Merisant Company was convinced was happening. They accused Splenda of confusing consumers into thinking "its product was healthier and more natural than other artificial sweeteners." Splenda currently holds 60% of the artificial sweetener market, and Merisant wanted $200 million from Splenda's marketer, McNeil Nutritionals. $183 million in unfair profits since 2003 and $25 for lost sales.

The one month trial focused mostly on that glorious slogan and ended in a settlement. McNeil admitted that potential customers were confused by the slogan, thinking that it was sugar without the calories. However, they can say that it is made from sugar, because the manufacturing process begins with sugar. The jury came to a verdict and asked the judge for a whiteboard and a calculator to begin deciding damages to be awarded ... and McNeil's lawyers busted into the courtroom, going whoa, whoa, hang on here a minute! The amount of the settlement will not be announced.

"If Splenda causes cancer, I'm a goner" by San Fran Annie