Friday, May 16, 2008

Activia ads: What precisely is "Bifidius Regularis" ?

One of my life experiences is having GMTV on in the mornings. They run quite a lot of ads for Activia. I have blogged before about how I explode and turn into a flying saucer every time I hear someone on the telly saying they "feel a bit bloated".

But I have noticed a sublter little ploy in the Activia ads recently. It happens very quickly. They say the words "Bifidius Regularis" very quickly, describing it as an "active ingredient" or that it just sounds Latin and scientific, so that you are very impressed but you can't quite make out what the precise words are.

So I googled "Bifidius Regularis". What on earth is it ? - I wondered. I needed to look no further than the Observant Bystander blog and a posting entitled "Stupidus Wordicus":

If you’re like me, you’re a skeptic. With all the hype thrown at us on a daily basis, from weather reports to ads on TV, it’s amazing anyone left in the world believes anything they hear these days. Donald Trump has got to have a corner on the hype market - he describes every friend as “the greatest ____ (golf player, actress/actor, etc) in the world, and every place he ever built as “the most fantastic”, “the best” and “the world’s biggest.” He probably describes his penis as “the greatest, largest and grandest penis in all the universe.”
Each new incarnation of a product promises us that it will be the Best Ever! The best at relieving muscle aches; the best at whitening your teeth; the best at cleaning the toilet.

Recently Dannon has been pitching its new Activia brand of yogurt. In the TV ad, one woman is bemoaning the fact that she’s irregular (and it’s ALWAYS a woman, isn’t it?) . Her friend helpfully explains that she’s probably not eating right. Friend goes on to say she no longer has “that problem” since she’s started eating Dannon Activia, then explains that Activia contains Bifidus Regularis, which can help maintain proper intestinal health.

Wait a minute. Bifidus Regularis? WTF? Look, I have a science degree. I’ve know my microbiology. And I know that there is no naturally occurring gut flora called Bifidus Regularis. For one thing, the use of the word Regularis isn’t even Latin. It SOUNDS Latin. It looks kind of like Latin. But it ain’t Latin, honey. This I know. So, skeptic that I am, I decided to do a little research of my own.

A quick check of Wiki confirms my suspicians. B. Regularis is what is known as probiotic - a dietary supplement that contains potentially beneficial bacteria or yeast. These probiotic cultures are mixed up in the lab, then renamed something consumer-friendly.

According to Wiki:

“It is important to stress that these are not scientific names but trade names designed to sound and look like scientifically named organisms…the two words of these trade names are both written with their first letters capitalized and never in italics but rather in bold type.”

Dannon is also hyping another new product designed to boost your immune system with the magic ingredient L. Casei Immunitis. Puleeze.

Maybe these products work and maybe they don’t. My gripe is that the names they came up with for their probiotics are incredibly cheesy. I can just imagine the rejected brand names thrown out at the brainstorming session at Dannon Headquarters now

Nomorus Constipatus
Nomorus Strainicus
Undous Constricturus
Gutucus Rapidus
Rapidus Evacuous
They can kissus my assicus.

So - I am hereby declaring my intention to never purchase these Dannon products, or any other products that blantantly use stupid, made-up, fakey sounding scientific terms. I’m sure they’re quaking in their boots right now.

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