Friday, July 29, 2011

Would You Buy a Tincture from This Man? How About a Cure for the Common Cold?

Yes – that’s His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, etc. And unbeknownst to me, he’s been in the business of creating and marketing sustainable products for years. They’re sold under the name Duchy Originals from Waitrose, “A partnership preserving our heritage.”

Waitrose acquired the organic range a couple of years ago. It then relaunched the products in its own retail locations exclusively. The Duchy got additional new products and all-new packaging too. The mostly organic, “good food” products range from black pepper wheaten biscuits to Old Ruby Ale, beetroot seeds to herbal tinctures. It’s these tinctures that keep getting Duchy Originals into trouble.

In 2009, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in Britain forced Duchy Originals to change wording on ads for the Duchy Herbals Echina-Relief Tincture and Duchy Herbals Hyperi-Lift Tincture – the marketer couldn’t prove efficacy, yet kept promoting it. In the same period, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority was “investigating claims made on behalf of the Duchy Herbals Detox Tincture which said it can rid the body of toxins.”

Now – Extra! Extra! – Britain's leading alternative medicine researcher, Edzard Ernst, has “re-ignited a public row…by branding the Prince of Wales a ‘snake oil salesman’.” Read all about this latest brick-toss in the Guardian here.

I brought the affray to the attention of Becci Himes, Executive Director of the British-American Business Council here in Houston. She said, “I only found a few tinctures that Duchy sells. Nothing outrageous. The bulk of their products are organic foods and a portion of their sales goes to charity.”

With her note in mind, I’m re-centered about the whole, distant thing. Waitrose was much praised originally for rescuing the Prince’s product lines. More important, it has done a good fair job carrying on with the Duchy Originals brand theme overall. Whether you like the Royals or not, there’s real value in putting Prince Charles’s prestige behind “natural, organic, sustainable.”

I would buy a cold remedy from HRH. The Duchy Herbals Echina-Relief Tincture, intended to relieve “the symptoms of the common cold and influenza-type infections,” gets a pass from that same vocal critic, Ernst. He claims there’s real evidence that echinacea helps against colds.

Waitrose could even get a bump in sales Duchy-wise because of the renewed attention. Ta for the weekend.

Photos: HRH Prince Charles by Matt Dunham/AP. Duchy tincture from the company website. All rights reserved.

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