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Cocaine energy drink: Name ruled okay, advertising not

Friday 01 May 2009 12:00a.m.

Cocaine energy drink: Name ruled okay, advertising not

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that advertising of the energy drink Cocaine was inappropriate and traded off a drug taking culture.

The Salvation Army made the complaint, and is now asking the company to change the name of drink.

It shares a name with a class A drug, but the only high Cocaine will give you is from all the caffeine and sugar.

"It had potential to mislead people, to soften what is very, very harmful, and present it in a way that is non-threatening," says Lynette Hudson.

The Salvation Army, which works with people suffering from drug and alcohol problems made a complaint to the ASA over a poster, which was ruled inappropriate, saying by using the word "warning' it alluded to something illicit and therefore traded off the properties of drugs and a drug-taking culture.

The company which sells Cocaine, Wize Marketing, says it stopped using the posters at the end of January.

But the Sallies say the socially responsible thing to do would be to change the drink's name.

"It's an international brand, it's in many, many countries around the world," says Deon Swiggs, Wize Marketing manager. "It's accepted. It's on our shelves and it sells really well, so we're not going to change the name of the drink."

In fact, Wize Marketing says its new slogan discourages people from taking drugs.

"What we're trying to achieve by saying, 'be smart' do the drink' is actually show that we're being responsible and showing the New Zealand public- don't do the drug, be smart and do the drink."

The ASA received seven complaints about Cocaine, two about the poster were upheld but five others about a radio advertisement were not. It says the brand name Cocaine is perfectly legal in this country and it can only uphold complaints based on the way something is promoted - not on name alone.

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