Watchdog splits the bill on health and organic marketing

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Sun Basket tried.

When an anonymous challenger raised issues about the San Francisco-based subscription meal delivery service with the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP), the company made some changes.

The challenge in part addressed Sun Basket’s claims about organic ingredients (“organic and non-GMO ingredients and delicious easy recipes designed for healthy weight management” read one tagline). And as soon as the inquiry began, Sun Basket made changes to its advertising, telling ERSP that it had removed all unqualified organic claims and added text explaining its standards to consumers.

But … it wasn’t quite enough. The claims, even though they had been modified and supported with informative text, remained inadequate because they communicated that the company used organic ingredients “wherever possible.”

The Takeaway

Things started looking brighter for the company when ERSP evaluated the company’s claims that its meals were healthy (“Healthy cooking made easy,” boasted one tagline).

“Healthy” was ruled an appropriate word for use in Sun Basket’s advertising, since it flowed with the expectations of the company’s target audience and could not be interpreted as promising specific nutritional value.

Another tagline called Sun Basket’s meals “lean and clean.” “Clean” was determined to be too nebulous a claim to be considered problematic. However, the term “lean” represented the meals could be used as a part of a weight management program, and thus ERSP recommended additional language to clarify the meaning of the word within this specific context.

Sun Basket promised to “take ERSP’s recommendations regarding our claims under consideration” as it began to review and rework its advertising.