When we introduced Fruit Roll-Ups into Canada, the claim coming with the product from the U.S. was: “made with real fruit.”  This claim was not acceptable in Canada.

The logic was that the word “real” creates an artificial doubt about other products and, in any case, is gratuitous, that is, unnecessary.  Fruit is fruit.  So why would one need to say “real” fruit if all fruit is real?

Nevertheless, our client was importing the product, so it would be less expensive to simply pick up the U.S. creative without having to spend production money to revise and eliminate the word “real.”

Off I went to Ottawa to argue the point.  But the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (CCA), the government agency that had to approve all food claims, was steadfast in their position.  The commercial voice over said “Made with real fruit” and it must be changed because the use of the word “real” was judged to be deceptive because it suggested other similar products, particularly fruit leathers as they were called, were not made with fruit.  Fruit is fruit; it is always real.  If it is fake fruit it is labelled as “fruit flavoured.”

My suggestion to say “really made with fruit” instead of “made with real fruit” was easily approved by CCA because the word “really” was related to the process not to the food itself.  So we launched the product with a tag line of “Really Made with Fruit” instead of “Made with Real Fruit.”  Changing the voice over was not that expensive.  And the product was an immediate hit.

A six months to a year later, we were importing new creative from the U.S. and we were once again in the position of spending production money to make the change.  I thought it was worth another kick at the can.

Coincidentally, I was contacted by a CBC business program called CBC Venture which dealt with these kinds of government issues.  They were interested in addressing what they called the government’s language police and our fight seemed to fit their profile.

We let the CBC know when our appointment with CCA was scheduled and they met us at the airport in Ottawa to film our arrival.

The CBC had also obtained permission from the CCA to film a portion of our meeting.  I am not sure what they told CCA, but it was clearly a media ambush.  We feigned surprise, but agreed to be filmed.

I had brought samples of candies with big fruit names (and tiny “flavoured”) on their packages, products like Strawberry Twizzlers and others, to make my point that we needed “real” to differentiate Fruit Roll-Ups from non-fruit containing snacks.  I made my pitch and as we snacked on these products.  The CBC film crew disappeared.

The CCA officer, a great guy I had dealt with many times, then told me he had considered our point of view and would permit us to use “Made with Real Fruit” so we didn’t have to waste production money to change the commercials we brought in.  “Besides,” he confided, “I thought ‘Really made with fruit’ actually sounded stronger.”

A few weeks later, the CBC aired their show.  I expected people to tell me how persuasive it was, but the only feedback I got was that I had a bald spot on the back of my head.

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