When is a lie not a lie…when its advertising

Ginger kitten looking in mirror and seeing a lionWhile in pursuit of creativity and originality, some adverts can tread on or even cross the line between truth and, well… misrepresentation. And by golly, we are seeing a fair share of that in the market today. The pursuit of customers and the elusive dollar is driving advertisers  to new heights of imagination.   Brands that misrepresent product features, benefits and functions however  have a tendency to be found out and slaughtered in the media by angry customers. While we all love a good advert, brands should always weigh the reputational impact of promotional material.

In the past few years, many international  and global brands have suffered the embarrassment of having their lies exposed and having to pay (literally)  for their misrepresentations.  And here are a few examples of the  disgraced culprits.

Activia yogurt

Dannon’s popular Activia brand yogurt lured consumers into paying more for its purported nutritional benefits , when it was actually pretty much the same as every other kind of yogurt. Falsely touting the “clinically” and “scientifically” proven nutritional benefits of the product, Dannon even got a famous spokesperson, Jamie Lee Curtis, to endorse it for the supposed digestion-regulator. But after a while, some customers didn’t buy it. A class action settlement forced Dannon to pay up to $45 million in damages to the consumers that filed the lawsuit and others who said they had been bamboozled. The company also had to limit its health claims on its products strictly to factual ones.

Source: ABC News

Olay’s Definity eye cream

In 2009, an Olay advert for its Definity eye cream showed former model Twiggy looking wrinkle-free  and a whole lot younger than her years (she is 64). Turns out the adverts were retouched. British lawmakers yanked digitally altered spots, citing not only a gross misrepresentation of the product, but the adverts’ potentially negative impact on people’s body images.

Source: Yahoo! Shine

Rice Krispies & Frosted Mini-Wheats

Kellogg’s popular Rice Krispies cereal had a crisis in 2010 when it was accused of misleading consumers about its immunity boosting properties. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in USA ordered Kellogg to halt all advertising that claimed that the cereal improved a child’s immunity with “25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients — Vitamins A, B, C and E,” stating the  claims were “dubious.”

Just a year prior, the company settled with the FTC over charges that its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal didn’t live up to its ads. The campaign claimed that the cereal improved kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20%, and was shot down when the FTC found out that the clinical studies showed that only 1-in-9 kids had that kind of improvement — and half the kids weren’t affected at all.

Source: CNN

Eclipse gum

Eclipse gum claimed that its new ingredient, magnolia bark extract, had germ-killing properties. Consumers sued Wrigley [in 2009] in the USA federal court arguing the subsidiary of privately held Mars Inc. made misleading advertising claims about the germ-killing properties of Eclipse.

As part of the settlement, Wrigley had  to change how it marketed its products  and labelled its gum. It agreed to pay $6 million to $7 million to a fund that reimbursed consumers up to $10 each for the product and cover other costs of the settlement.

Source: Businessweek

Extenze

Extenze claimed to be “scientifically proven to increase the size of a certain part of the male body.” But in 2010, the company had to pay a $6 million settlement to disappointed, less-endowed men everywhere.

Source: BNET

Contact me for your marketing consultancy requirements & training at chipomaps@gmail.com

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About chipomaps

A brand reputation, marketing and new media trainer and consultant. Constantly curious, constantly learning.
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