Chapter Nine: Consumer Protection and Transparency
Each year, companies are fined for misrepresenting their services or products. Hiscott (2017) shows how certain large organizations flippantly misrepresent or blatantly lie about their products. In several cases, this has led to them being penalized with multimillion-dollar legal settlements. What follows is a summary of some well-known brands who have lied about their products:
• In 2012, Skechers reached a $40 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for making scientifically unfounded claims about its sneakers.
• In 2005, a federal judge forced Listerine to pull ads that claimed the mouthwash was clinically proven to be as effective as floss in fighting tooth and gum decay.
• In 2016, All Natural Juice faced a class action lawsuit for using phrases like “100% Fruit,” on their packaging. The company paid $9 million to settle the suit.
• In 2009, Kellogg’s made unsubstantiated scientific claims about Rice Krispies, stating that the cereal provided 25% of the daily recommended number of antioxidants and nutrients. The Federal Trade Commission also took Kellogg’s to task for claiming its Frosted Mini-Wheats were “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20%.” The Federal Trade Commission prohibited Kellogg’s from making any more claims that were not backed by scientific evidence. (Hiscott, 2017).
In other reports, companies have been identified as being deliberately misleading in their advertisements, not just by pushing the boundaries of truth but by making blatant statements that omit any fact or evidence, scientific or otherwise. In 2017, Business Insider India reported the following:
• L’Oréal claimed that two of its skincare products could “boost genes” and generate “visibly younger skin in just seven days.”
• Activia brand yogurt landed the company with a class action settlement of $45 million in 2010. The yogurts were marketed as being “clinically” and “scientifically” proven to boost the immune system and able to help to regulate digestion.
• In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen for its advertising campaign promoting its “Clean Diesel.”
• Energy drinks company Red Bull was sued in 2014 for its slogan “Red Bull Gives you Wings.”
• New Balance was accused of false advertising in 2011 over a sneaker range that it claimed could help wearers burn calories.
In the pet training industry, it is not uncommon to see claims similar to these, which are labels at best and factually inaccurate at worst, given the scientific research now available to us.
This book can be pre-ordered on Amazon here