Monday Marketing Minute: False Advertising, Deceptive Marketing Claims

Posted by DC Marketing Pro on August 5, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Monday Marketing MinuteDC Marketing Pro’s Monday Marketing Minute, is a weekly feature that provides interesting and insightful marketing information, written to be read in a “minute.”  We start off each week publishing a nugget about a marketing trend, an interesting marketing quote or relevant marketing article. 

Here is your August 5th Monday Marketing Minute:

The well-known and popular Vitaminwater (and product owner Coca-Cola) is in marketing hot water.  In a law suit first filed in 2009, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) and private law firms sued Coca-Cola over deceptive marketing claims.  CPSI claims that “the marketing of Vitaminwater will go down in history as one of the boldest and brashest attempts to ever affix a healthy halo to what is essentially a junk food, a non-carbonated soda.” 

Just a few weeks ago, a United Stated Magistrate Judge recommended the plaintiffs be able to litigate against Coca Cola with their claim that Vitaminwater engaged in deceptive marketing. 

For those not familiar with the case, CPSI and others argue that Vitaminwater’s advertising implies that the product is made from vitamins and water…when in fact it is made from forms of sugars, producing about 120 calories in each bottle.

At DCMarketingPro, this got us thinking about other false advertising claims.  We don’t have the room for the extensive list of ALL deceptive advertising, but we have highlighted a few below:  

  • “Nivea’s My Silhouette cream makes you thinner.”  Turns out the FTC disagrees that the ointment made from white tea and anise actually reduces fat.  The FTC chairman went as far as saying, “The skinny on weight loss is that no cream is going to help you fit into your jeans.”  See more on this marketing claim here.
  • “Wrigley’s Eclipse chewing gum kills bad-breath germs.”  Ads ran claiming that a new ingredient in Eclipse gum (magnolia bark extract) could kills germs that cause bad breath…which is different than other gums which just mask the smell.  When hit with the lawsuit, Wrigley’s settled for a $6-$7 million payout to reimburse people who purchased the gum.  Wrigley’s denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the settlement was only to prevent a business distraction.  See more on this advertising claim here.
  • “Airborne supplement fights off colds.”  Marketed as an “herbal health formula that boosts your immune system to help your body combat germs,” Airborne launched in 1999 and sales rose quickly.  However, CPSI claimed that “Airborne is basically an overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that’s been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed. “  In 2008 Airborne paid $23.3 million to settle a class action lawsuit.  Read more about their marketing issues here.

What false advertising or deceptive marketing comes to your mind?  Of course there are varying degrees of “false” and “deceptive,” but we have all seen claims that make us wonder how accurate they are.  Share your thoughts below in the comment section.  And if you enjoyed the Monday Marketing Minute, subscribe here and have this weekly post sent directly to your email.

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Tags: Trends, Marketing Strategy



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