meet the new bacterium, same as the old bacterium

Just watched a TV ad for the Activa New You Plan. In it minor Brit celeb Nell McAndrew endorses Activa every day to “improve slower digestive transit”. She does so wearing garish green, and opens up a garish green fridge, where she pulls out a container of Activa next to a tray of gleaming green apples (curse this Activa green brand colour).

Anyway, what is, “slower digestive transit?” Let me see now… It means digestion which is slower. Slower than what? Pay attention: obviously slower than normal digestive transit. Anyway Activa, which “contains the unique culture Bifidus ActiRegularis, increases your good bacteria and is scientifically proven to help improve digestive transit.” Or, stripping it of its deliberate obfuscation: eating probiotic yogurt can speed up your digestion.

The website offers a startling insight into how you can become “The New You”. It’s easy, what you do is:

  • Eat at least one Activia every day (quelle surprise)
  • Drink more water
  • Eat well
  • Move more
  • Listen to your body’s needs.

Not much to detain us here. It is a straightforward programme to encourage people to take, and continue taking, probiotic yogurt – and fairly well done. When you visit the website it encourages you to tell your friends about the site, and supply your email address and so on.

Now what about that unique culture Bifidus ActiRegularis…. Hmm, good ol’ Wikipedia has got something to say about this…

“Bifidus animalis, strain number DN 173 010, is used worldwide as a probiotic in the product Activia™, produced by the Danone company (known as Dannon in the US). The company uses different trade names in different countries : Bifidus Digestivum (UK), Bifidus Regularis (US and Mexico), Bifidobacterium Lactis or B.L. Regularis (Canada), Bifidus Essensis (Germany, Netherlands, Romania and Austria), Bifidus Activo (Spain) and Bifidus Actiregularis (Argentina, Chile, Italy, Netherlands and Russia). “

So lucky UK just got the name recycled from Argentina, Chile, Italy, Netherlands and Russia (no wonder the brand colour is green) to make it seem as if it were a new erm “unique” ingredient. As Wikipedia says:

“These are not scientific names but trade names designed to sound and look like scientifically named organisms. The scientific name is Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis DN173010.”

But bifidobacterium animalis just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Bifidus ActiRegularis is the same as Bifidus Digestivum.

Just another case of marketing pretending to be science.

About Peter Kenny

I lead a double life. Identity #1. A writer of poems, plays, libretti, prose, journalism and so on. Identity #2: A marketing outlier, working with London creative agencies and my own clients as a copywriter and creative consultant.
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8 Responses to meet the new bacterium, same as the old bacterium

  1. Anonymous says:

    aaah but have you actually tried it?Its good shit, man.KirstyWigan

  2. Peter says:

    It’s good shit, man. Now that is an advertising slogan I could go for.I’ve never met anyone outside of made up testimonials that actually calls themselves Kirsty of Wigan.

  3. Iain Jenkins says:

    There’s a website which documents a lot of this stuff – < HREF="http://www.bifidusactiregularis.com/" REL="nofollow">http://www.bifidusactiregularis.com<> – which used to be called… < HREF="http://www.bifidusdigestivum.com/" REL="nofollow">http://www.bifidusdigestivum.com<> – gotta move with the times, eh?

  4. Peter says:

    Thanks Iain – cracking links.

  5. Iain Jenkins says:

    Danone sued ’em! Check out the new site name and info on the page: http://www.bifidusanimalis.com/

  6. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone ever had any allergic reaction to the Activia yogurt? If you have please post a note. I have been eating an activia yogurt daily and have been showing some signs of allergies (itching, swelling). Please post any comments.Jim

  7. Anonymous says:

    I was eating it very regularly for lunch everyday and was having itching and leaking. Lovely, huh? Since I stopped, I don't have the problem anymore. Someone said that if you are allergic to sulfa based antibiotics, then you should not eat this. I think that should be on the label somewhere, huh?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just figured out tonight what the itchy hives I have been experiencing are from..ACTIVIA! I am going itchy with them. And when the itch starts its extreme. I am ALSO allergic to Sulfa antibiotics. They cause me to have migraines. It worked for my digestive track but Its not worth it.

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