Joe Swenson

Minnetonka, MN

This case study will be about the Vitamin Water ad accused of misleading advertising and health claims. Vitamin Water was claiming that the product can be replaced for flu vaccines. The ad states the following:

  • Flu shots are so last year
  • more vitamin C
  • more immunity
  • less snotty tissues.  

Vitamin Water broke the ethical boundaries by implying an illness can be treated by Vitamin Water. According to the Federal Trade Commission and Health Claims, “Companies must support their advertising claims with solid proof. This is especially true for businesses that market food, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, contact lenses and other health related products” (Federal Trade Commission n.d).

The five-step TARES Test method will be used to examine whether the Vitamin Water ad is ethical. The TARES Test is a checklist of questions the creators of every persuasive message should ask themselves (Patterson & Wilkins,  2014).

A philosophical principle that can also be used to analyze the ethics of this ad is Utilitarianism, which Patterson and Wilkins (2014) define as, “The consequences of actions are important in deciding whether they are ethical…t may be considered ethical to harm one person for the benefit of the larger group” (Patterson & Wilkins, 2014, p. 10).