truth in advertising
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,” ThinkProgress.org 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.”