A few weeks ago, news broke that 5-Hour Energy is currently under FDA investigation for thirteen deaths over the past four years that may or may not be linked to their cough syrup-y caffeine shot. This in addition to over 90 other F.D.A. filings, one of which blames the drink for a spontaneous abortion. It’s a rough spot to be in for any company.
Now, most business experts will tell you that the best way to handle this kind of PR crisis is to face the claims head-on by releasing a hastily assembled, really budget-looking YouTube ad explaining that your product, in all likelihood, will not kill anyone. Which is exactly what 5-Hour Energy has done.
In a vague, poorly lit spot released last week, the company cites experts who point out the obvious — that it really is pretty hard to O.D. on caffeine — but more importantly, the testimony of founder Manoj Bhargava, who explains, “I take it almost every day, and twice when I play tennis [...] So, that’s how I approach the safety. That is the highest standard you can get.”
Which, pretty irrefutable. Personally, I think the big problem here is that 5-Hours are sort of hit or miss as far as efficacy and a good, cup-of-coffee-and-half-a-No-Doz combo is way more reliable. But I suppose that isn’t really the point. Certainly not as much the point, anyway, as the fine print in the ad noting, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.” Continue to swill with caution, I guess.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.