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In absentia: edentulous & aspondylic; how many "truth-stretching" claims until we say "ENOUGH?!". (Proprietary Perspectives).

The aspiration for overt superiority of one brand, and the tacit inferiority of all others, is a theme that pervades all goods of commerce. However, in the realm of consumer goods where function takes precedence over form (e.g. automobile tires and computers), objective criteria and assessment tools are employed to render an independently derived moniker of "superior." In these segments of the consumer goods landscape fallacious and spurious claims of superiority and even inferiority are typically not tolerated, at least not for years. The rain of legal might invariably falls upon the company who elongates the truth a la Pinocchio or fabricates a la Peter and the Wolf. The onus of proof is unveiled through the courts or an entity like the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau.

If veterans of these semi-durable goods industries were to make the mysterious trek into the Valley of the Nutraceuticals, the anatomical features of its inhabitants would leave the visitors transfixed. Sustained residence in this fertile but undulating valley robs its inhabitants of their spines, like a waxing strip depilates the back of a hirsute. The emergence of the infomercial has given birth to star pupils of the superiority genre. Most vivid an illustration is embodied in the name Reef Calcium, with a nouveau celebrity "doctor" of questionable degree. Herein assertions of superiority relegate lesser forms of calcium (read carbonate) to the benthic depths of the food (supplement) chain. Irrelevant are the dozens of long term randomized controlled clinical trials showing this and its acidic cousins (calcium citrate; Procter & Gamble's calcium citrate malate=Tropicana's FruitCal[R]) to exert osteoprotective effects (to "work" it must be absorbed). Absent are references to ANY human comparison studies usin g this limestone-of-the-sea and any other form of calcium, with bone- or joint-specific outcome measures or surrogate markers (consumers ultimately take calcium for its skeletal effects, not to just absorb it. Reef calcium claims extend to the joints, also).

The Valley residents have allowed this din to proceed unfettered from the distant electronic mountaintop, now enjoying a second and sustained showing on-air after first debuting several years ago. Devoid of spines, they are left only to grumble amongst themselves, denigrating the on-air personalities and any consumer gullible enough to allow themselves to be infected by this virulent vector, The newcomers from other industries query the residents, befuddled by their reluctance to challenge the self-appointed king of calcium. "We seek not to engage in negative campaigns for the journey to the mountain is costly and long," uttered one of the taller residents. "The consumers will find out the truth. This will pass." But the oldest of the newly arrived guests emphatically replied, "You're losing sales, and an incalculable amount of the consumer loyalty and brand equity you had amassed. It's eroding like a sand castle at high tide." For a brief moment the movie poster from Reef-er Madness flashed in his mind.

The largest elder of the Valley bellowed, "We have weathered storms like these in the past. Look at how the "karma boomerang" struck products like Exercise in a Bottle and Fat Trapper! The FTC even went after their spokesperson/former LA Dodgers first baseman." The newcomers were stupefied. More than two years of aggressive on air marketing with unsubstantiated product-specific claims those products enjoyed, before the FTC clampdown. For the Valleyans, the avoidance of conflict was their offense, while "in the aisles" and "on the trade show floor" were the regions where their legions were deployed. Herein, to the retailers and the cronies the truth was told. But the truth never reached the loyalists, their patron consumers.

Rather than risk being forever perceived as rectitudinous warriors of commerce, the newcomers silently and effortlessly shifted gears to the territory of ink. "Ladies and gentlemen of the Valley, we acknowledge your views," began the articulate grande dame of the newcomers. " What we view as your plight may actually be the penance of DSHEA, where all supplement crafts both descend and ascend with the vagaries of the winds. However, one among you endured these gusts no more and has attempted to harness them and place the Prevaricator in a dinghy." A palpable hush instantly ensconced the Valleyans. "One of our own has chosen to fight?" echoed in their minds like the shrill yell of a Valleyan virago. The three elder Valleyans stepped forward from their group and deftly spun in a semi-circle to face their clan, resembling backup singers from the golden days of Motown. "Who among you has broken the Silent Rule of Silence?" demanded the supreme elder with celestial authority, as if he had channeled the voice of Ja mes Earl Jones.

Without pause an arm arose in the back of the throng, upright, stout and muscular, ending with a slowly clenching fist. A Teutonic voice married with its reaching for the sky. From a certain angle and an evanescent moment, it appeared as if the hand was grasping for a different, distant mountaintop, the Creatine Crest. "It is us, The Dukes of Chemistry," came forth the voice. The crowd parted like wet hair being sliced by a barber's comb. "We no longer can tolerate the chantings emanating from the Creatine Crest. Their tales of toxicity and non-bioavailability, of our own product, also marketed and sold by many of you here, have perhaps irreparably tarnished our efforts. Their liquid has diluted our liquidity in the market. We have elected to engage the Molecular Magistrates to decide our fate, and that of those on the Creatine Crest."

The youngest of the Valleyan elders, a gnome-like, xanthous chap, the latter feature likely a product of his neurotic habit of chewing carotenoid-enriched gum, replied, "You know the risks. The potential losses are staggering. The Silent Rule of Silence trusts the hands of Time to deny the voices of Suspect and Specious a final say. What is your recourse if the decision of the Molecular Magistrates casts a prevailing light upon the inhabitants of the Creatine Crest? One of our own has traded their silence for the riches offered by the Crestians. How can you refuse that?" "They traded not their silence for riches, but their silence for their integrity and temporary wealth, as hollow as the log you are standing upon," responded the third elder newcomer. "As for our fate, we are buoyed by the voluminous evidence we have and the paucity, even the absence of evidence the Crestians have, or have not. We have engaged the Kings of Creatine, and gone beyond the evidence that resides in the Sacred Scrolls. We shall pre vail."

A smile squelched the strain on each of the Valleyan elders' faces and revealed an attribute that heretofore had gone unnoticed by the newcomers: all were without teeth.

Anthony L. Almada, B.Sc., M.Sc., is the founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition and MetaResponse Sciences, two elite nutritional technology companies. He excels in potentiating intellectual property, product development, scientific validation and creating powerful data-driven demand campaigns. Mr. Almada can be reached at 30131 Town Center Drive, Suite 211, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677; 949-363-5858; Fax: 949-363-1758; E-mail:
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Author:Almada, Anthony L.
Publication:Nutraceuticals World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2003
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