“Chief Flavor Officer.” It’s not just a ceremonial title. It’s an office that carries great dignity, importance, and responsibility. If you sign on to become a Chief Flavor Officer, you cannot take that duty lightly. And if you’re the Chief Flavor Officer of a company that might be fraudulent in its claims about its flavoring agents, then you deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Maybe Justin Timberlake didn’t know all this when he signed on to become a Chief Flavor Officer. But you better believe he knows it now.
In 2016, Timberlake invested in Bai Brands, a company that makes low-calorie soft drinks advertised as being all-natural, with no artificial sweeteners. The company made Timberlake its “Chief Flavor Officer.” Last year, Timberlake appeared in a pun-based Super Bowl commercial for Bai with Christopher Walken. (Bai is pronounced “bye,” and Timberlake once sang on a famous song called “Bye Bye Bye.”)
But last month, as previously reported, Bai became a target for a class-action lawsuit, and Timberlake is one of the defendants. The lawsuit claims that Bai uses the flavor additive malic acid as a flavoring agent rather than a flavoring enhancer and that the company’s advertising needs to be changed to reflect its use of artificial flavors. And it claims that Timberlake and Bai “entered into a single agreement and/or multiple agreements to commit fraud and other unlawful acts by agreeing to promote artificially flavored beverage products as if they were solely naturally flavored without synthetic chemical ingredients.”
As the Blast reports, Timberlake’s lawyers are seeking to have the entire lawsuit dismissed, making the argument that Timberlake didn’t design the beverage or its ad campaign: “The singer claims there is no evidence he had a role in the design, manufacturing or distribution of the Bai drinks. He says the plaintiffs will not be able to prove he had knowledge of the ingredients either.”
Timberlake’s lawyers also point out that he didn’t talk about the drink’s composition in the Super Bowl ad and that he’s merely a celebrity spokesperson for the company. But does “Chief Flavor Officer” sound like the kind of title you’d bestow upon a mere celebrity spokesperson?