Decoding The Acai Berry Marketing Machine

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Another week and a dozen more offers sitting in my email inbox for the amazing Acai Berry. I’ve put off the idea of analyzing this highly touted supplement primarily for these two reasons:

1. Anything that sounds to good to be true usually falls flat on it’s face, especially in the world of fat loss;

2. Oprah.

[A friend asked me what Acai supplement she should be using in her diet. This picture captures my reaction quite well.]

Now I enjoy most of Oprah’s segments and features but this particular episode from last year, which also included some hyped-up talk about Resveratrol, was a complete disaster.

OK, it was really Dr. Mehmet Oz who dropped the ball, but unknowingly or not, this episode contributed to a dramatic rise in Acai profit ($15 million last year, up from $500,000 per year in previous years) and junk email offers around the world.

Almost overnight, Oprah and other celebrities became walking endorsements with ad campaigns built entirely around them to be used in every corner of the internet. By filing a lawsuit earlier this month, it looks like Oprah may think twice about doing another episode about this “miracle” fat loss supplement.

With the rise of acai berry products, it’s virtually impossible to get any subjective and unbiased information on the topic because all the junk websites have risen to the top in most search engines.

What I’ll attempt to do here is save you the headache and give you an honest digestible (pardon the pun) version of the facts regarding this heavily publicized piece of fruit.

Acai Origins and it’s (un)Powerful Effects

By now you probably know these berries come from a South American palm tree and natives have been eating these berries for thousands of years. There’s more ancestral story telling about these berries then I care to share with you. The marketing side usually does a good enough job of glamorizing it so don’t be surprised if a made-for-TV movie hits cable very soon.

Besides, the powerful fat loss effects is you and I are interested in!

The only thing resembling research I could find came from the various sales copies. They usually pointed to studies using mice and test tubes claiming lots of antioxidant activity. Doesn’t get more quantifiable then lots, does it?

A real leap of faith is needed to believe any test tube studies since variables such as absorption into the bloodstream, surviving the processing by the liver, and not getting completely diluted by the fluids of the body are not accounted for.

Do I even need to discuss studies using mice? Show me some direct effect on human health in a published format, then we have something to talk about.

Calling these unverified claims would be a disgrace to the term unverified claim. Thankfully, I found a couple of websites and an ABC “superfood” special which blew the whistle on Acai products and hopefully will make people think twice before plunking down some serious coin.

[Just in case you missed it, here's the ABC special report on the not so super berry.]

Aggressive Marketing Strategies

The lack of “direct” evidence makes the Acai marketing machine even more suspicious. For example, pictures of the same woman (with different names on each website) being used to promote three separate Acai products have been reported.

Checking out the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, I found multiple warnings this year claiming web sites using “misleading sales and marketing practices” to promote Acai supplements. Most of the warnings revolved around customers failing to read the fine print.

From the BBB:

The phony blogs link to Web sites that offer a free trial of an acai supplement, and while the customer may think they only have to pay shipping, they could get billed as much as $87.13 every month if they don’t cancel before the trial period ends. The fine print also explains that the trial period begins from the moment the customer orders the supplements and not after they receive the shipment.

Yes, part of the blame should fall with the customer for not reading the conditions before purchasing BUT how is anyone supposed to test drive a product when they don’t have it in hand, or for another 2 weeks? Silly, if you ask me.

Alternatives to Acai Berry

The combination of shady website offers and a lack of scientific evidence really leaves a customer begging for alternatives. Fortunately for you, the substitutes are simple and cheap-er.

Stick to whole fruit such as (but not limited too) grapes, blueberries, raspberries, grapefruit, and pomegranates. Organic preferably but locally grown at minimum for environmental consciousness. The benefits of eating whole fruit offers you the most diverse and intact collection of nutrients. Various studies have shown powders, supplements and juices to come a distant second in nutritional value.

I like incorporating fruits into my breakfast cereals and try to not go overboard the rest of the day. One or two pieces of fruit and I’m done because at the end of the day it’s still a carbohydrate and the majority of our carb intake should come from vegetables.

For more information about foods to utilize in your fat loss journey, check out our Six Pack Quest Review. Discussions about fat loss nutrition and meal plans are specifically covered by fitness guru and author Vince DelMonte. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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  1. Rahim says:

    At first I was really interested in the whole Acai movement. But like you said, all of the junk mail bombardment just turned me off. I have a funny feeling about going along with what the masses does anyway.

  2. It’s always good to take a break from marching along with everyone else and really examine why you are doing something.


  3. Yudi says:

    Great post. One huge thing that most people fail to realize is that acai is an antioxidant, not a weight loss supplement. The benefit of antioxidants is in fighting disease and free radicals, not losing weight. The whole weight loss angle is a total marketing gimmick.

    I like Oprah’s general vibe but her show usually is full of ABSOLUTE CRAP when it comes to anything related to fitness and weight loss.

    Aside from this Acai nonsense, there was also the episode about calorie restricted diets a while back which was totally overhyped and not entirely the truth. I wrote a whole post on my blog about why I totally disagree with them on that issue.

    And DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED about the absolute garbage that went on in the episode about Tracy Anderson the ‘celebrity trainer’. How anyone can have the audacity to say the stuff she does it beyond me. I just feel sorry for the people that buy into that crap.

  4. Yudi,

    I’m with you on all points. I missed the Tracy Anderson episode so I’ll have to check that one out. Not a big fan of hers to begin with so maybe this will get me fired up to write another decoding piece:)


  5. Yudi says:

    Oh, you’re in for a treat with that one.

    You’ll be foaming at the mouth afterwards.

    Check it out here:

  6. [...] I can still remember all the hype back in 2003 when the South Beach diet first hit book shelves. It was massive! Everyone and their mothers flocked to it including celebrities like Bill Clinton, Nicole Kidman, and our friend Oprah Winfrey. [...]

  7. Baie Acai Lover says:

    This is also happening around the world, here is France many people are getting all crazy about the acai berry (baies d’acai). They also got a lot of scam from the US and Canada going on, people are complaining a lot on forum and blogs…

  8. Acai says:

    Heya,,, sweet blog. Can u explain me how to put your post at my rssreadr? pls :D ?? Greetings from Italy

  9. Jason M Thorton says:

    Instead of hiring paid actors or utilizing phoney photoshop images, this company is actually offering the general public Fifteen Hundred Dollars to provide legit testimonials with legitimate pics. Must See

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