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Rudd Radar

SideKicks Settlement Announced: Misleading Ads Removed From Air

December 4, 2013

ChangeLab Solutions and the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity applaud today’s announcement of a settlement with a company marketing a sugary beverage to kids as a product that would enhance their health.

The settlement, which is between the New York State Attorney General’s Office and Abbott Laboratories, is in response to a complaint filed by health advocates about misleading ads for Pediasure SideKicks, a sweetened chocolate-, vanilla-, or strawberry-flavored shake-type beverage, and SideKicks Clear, a sweetened fruit-flavored drink that does not contain milk.

Examples of the marketing include the following:

  • Advertising Pediasure SideKicks using television ads that showed an energetic kid on a soccer field contrasted with kids who were shown to have eaten junk food like French fries or doughnuts. The ads implied that SideKicks would enhance the child’s performance on the field, as well as her overall health.
  • In addition, though SideKicks Clear contained no actual fruit, Abbott had ads appearing online that included pictures of fruit, which could easily mislead consumers to think fruit was an ingredient. Moreover, the product’s label did not include language, required by federal law, specifying that the beverage contains no fruit or fruit juice.

The settlement required Abbott to pull these ads from television and the Internet. 

“We are thrilled that the ad is off the air,” said Marice Ashe, JD, JPH, CEO and founder of ChangeLab Solutions. “This is a perfect example of the kind of misleading marketing that directly and negatively affects the health of kids in all our communities.”

“This settlement represents a tremendous victory in our effort to shine the light on the misleading practices of beverage companies, and should serve as a warning to other companies engaged in similarly deceptive marketing practices,” said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Director.

Parents and advocates who see similar ads about other products can report them to their state attorney general’s office, to industry organizations, like the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) and the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), which oversee self-regulation against these practices, or to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). ChangeLab Solutions offers free guides to identifying and reporting these ads.