Watch What You Say….More False Advertising Lawsuits Filed

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I heard two separate stories in the news today about lawsuits that have been filed against companies for alleged false advertising. The stories underscore the importance of honesty in advertising, even when you are trying to make consumers think that your product is the best on the market.

The first complaint involved a product that you don’t hear a lot about in the news or in court: kitty litter! The makers of Super Scoop cat litter filed a complaint against the manufacturers of Fresh Step, saying that a TV advertisement maligns its product because it shows cats rejecting and refusing to use a litter box with Super Scoop, while preferring the box with Fresh Step. Arm & Hammer, the makers of Super Scoop, also claim that the advertisement is deceptive because its leads consumers to think that cats prefer Fresh Step, when we don’t know what cats are thinking when they choose a box that contains Fresh Step rather than Super Scoop. Maybe the cat chose Fresh Step because it didn’t like the cat that had just gone into the box with the Super Scoop, rather than making that preference because of the brand of litter. We don’t know what cats think, so the ad shouldn’t lead consumers to that conclusion.

The other story involved New Balance, which also just got sued over its toning shoes which the company claim “encourage muscle activation and calorie burn.” The plaintiff, who is seeking class-action certification, alleges that the shoes don’t actually burn calories or help you slim down, thus violating the Federal Trade Commission Act which prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising.

This isn’t the first time that a company has come under fire for claims that its products provide added health benefits. General Mills, the maker of Cheerios, has been sued for deceptive advertising due to its claims that the breakfast cereal can lower your cholesterol by 4 points in 6 weeks.

Dannon Yogurt, products of Activia, has paid out $21 million to settle claims over deceptive advertising as well. The yogurt maker alleges that its products can provide health and digestive benefits. However, consumer groups and state attorney generals say that these benefits are not substantiated by medical research.

What does this show? To me, the lawsuits and claims involving food products and deceptive advertising show that we are a society easily deceived by our quest for health, fitness and beauty with no effort.  We want our food not only to nourish us, but to provide extra health benefits as well. We want the 4-hour work week and the programs that promise weight loss of 25 pounds in a month with no exercise.

I always think of how I can apply these marketing techniques to my law firm….sign up for our monthly membership program and you will look 10 years younger and lose 10 pounds in a week! We promise. If you believe that, we also have a bridge to sell you. But in Rome, not in Brooklyn.


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