truth in advertising

Kellogg’s Ordered to Pay Out $4 Million in False Advertising Suit

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 4, 2013 05:32 PM

What parent wouldn’t want their kid to eat a cereal that improved his or her “attentiveness, memory, and other cognitive functions by 20 percent?” Pretty much none. Unfortunately for Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats, that phrase may also describe the validity of the claim.

The company has been ordered to shell out $4 million in a class-action suit as part of an agreement in which Kellogg’s won’t be assigned a guilty or innocent verdict. AdWeek notes that the company “changed its marketing message” after the Federal Trade Commission filed a false-advertising case against the company in 2009 after an ad was aired that claimed that the cereal was “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by 11 percent,” reports.

“We tell consumers that they should deal with trusted national brands,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in 2009, according to ThinkProgress. “So it’s especially important that America’s leading companies are more ‘attentive’ to the truthfulness of their ads and don’t exaggerate the results of tests or research.”

If you still have proof that you bought Frosted Mini-Wheats between Jan. 28, 2009 and Oct. 1, 2009, you may be entitled to a piece of the settlement in the form of $15.

Tim Blood, the plaintiff’s lawyer in the suit, told NPR that the ads containing false information may have been produced due to the constant pull between marketing departments and legal departments. “The marketers want to say all kinds of things and it's up to other aspects of the company to restrain the marketing people,” he said. “And sometimes the marketing people win those battles over what should or shouldn't be said.”


Deborah Budd United States says:

Nice... the plaintiff's lawyer blames the marketing department, when all too often, it's the people "upstairs" directing copy and signing off on those false statements. In the case of agencies working with clients, it's critical to ask clients if claims they make can be backed up with hard data. And using a "Hold Harmless" clause in all contracts also protects agencies from clients eager to gain some market advantage through exaggerated claims. Today's consumers are skeptics; agencies need to be Skeptic #1 with clients to keep false statements from getting out in public.

June 5, 2013 09:50 AM #

JV Australia says:

I'm a proud marketing professional, and I am appalled that Kelloggs has been caught in such a blatant exercise in brand deception by a market leader - especilaay if, as Deborah Budd suggests, it was "upstairs" suits .

Sadly, this can only cast a shadow over every marketing practitioner

Shame, shame, shame!

I can't help thinking it would have been preferable to opt for hyperbole and claim that eating Frosted Mini-Wheats would make kids smarter than Einstein.

JV @ l'Attitude! in Cairns

June 8, 2013 07:32 PM #

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