5 Hour Energy: A Salute to Deceptive AdvertisingBy Dan Seitz
We love 5 Hour Energy, and not just because it’s obviously profoundly bad for us. We love it because the people who make it know it’s bad for us, and have hired a legion of lawyers to protect themselves as much as possible before the inevitable lawsuits come and they have to flee the country, stuffing money in valises and hiding under railroad bridges.
Take this commercial, for example:
Notice right off the bat they ask the question “But what’s in it?” and then proceed to avoid answering the question. Their answer, without actually saying anything is, “oh, it’s stuff you find in food or is already in you.” Already in us? There’s bile in us, is there bile in it? Mucus? Semen?
Hey, did you know that all a product needs to be “natural”, under the law, is to only contain chemicals found in nature? As in, technically, pure arsenic is “all natural?”
Then they proceed to deny it’s got anything in it other than…um…well, we have no idea. Some of these energy drink companies will at least pretend the “I just smoked crack” feeling their drinks provide is because of b-vitamins or something, but 5 Hour Energy won’t even give us that, although their website goes into a little more detail. There’s caffeine in there, we know that. But for all we know, this stuff is just liquified dog-shit with caffeine in it. That’s what it tastes like, anyway.
Even more fun are the disclaimers. Ignore the douche talking and just read the text at the bottom:
Bam! Six seconds in, “not proven to improve physical performance, dexterity, or endurance.” Next, “no crash means no sugar crash.” The emphasis is theirs, not ours. Why the hell is sugar italicized? That’s only slightly less unsettling than if a skeevy guy with slicked back hair and a molester mustache popped on the screen and said “no sugar crash” and put air quotes around “sugar” and started winking and taking swigs from a bottle of mouthwash after he said it. Are they implying there will be a crash of some sort? Is it going to be a car crash? Because our car isn’t necessarily insured.
Still, the best disclaimer is in this ad:
Yes, seventeen seconds in, it actually says “Appearance changes for comedic effect, not to imply actual changes.” Somewhere, someone spent approximately eight years earning a corporate law degree just so they could one day sit in a boardroom and say “you know, we better make it clear that our competitor’s product doesn’t actually change your clothes, hair and glasses as soon as you drink it. Just for CYA purposes.” When you’re shilling a product that is rivaled only by crystal meth when it comes to mysterious ingredients and how long it keeps you high, how does the effect it has on your leather jacket even come up?