Tom’s of Maine has built its reputation as a company that uses only natural ingredients in its toothpastes, but it turns out that its wholesome image isn’t quite reality. Class-action suits filed in March 2014 and earlier this summer against Tom’s and its owner, Colgate-Palmolive, argue that the products actually contain highly processed ingredients.
The suits no doubt didn’t bring many smiles at Tom’s or Colgate, which has just reached an agreement to shell out $4.5 million and “change its labeling practices” at Tom’s to put an end to the class-action suits, Law360.com reports.
Tom’s may want to expedite the process so it can continue to present itself as a good corporate citizen. Earlier this month, it kicked off its annual 50 States for Good campaign, which asks US consumers to share #OneWaytoHelp their communities. The company will select 51 winners—one per state plus Washington, DC—who will each receive $20,000 for a total of more than $1 million.
— Tom's of Maine (@TomsofMaine) July 23, 2015
Tom’s is fiercely attached to that “natural” image so it remains to be seen how it will help consumers overcome the non-natural ingredients. Tom’s is currently promoting itself on Instagram users that have been identified as fans of earth-friendly products, Ad Age reports.
Don’t blame Tom, of course. Tom Chappell, who founded Tom’s in 1970 (and who was indeed from Maine, just like Burt Shavitz of Burt’s Bees fame, who saw his company sold to Clorox and passed away earlier this month), hasn’t been involved with his namesake brand since selling it to Colgate in 2006.
Now he’s busy growing his next ecologically friendly company, Ramblers Way Farm, which makes sustainable wool clothing with the help of Rambouillet sheep. According to mainbiz.com, it’s already a million-dollar enterprise and expects to grow to $10 million within five years. As for how Tom’s of Maine deals with the knock on its reputation after ‘fessing up to being not all natural after all — that’s up to Colgate, as Chappell has rambled on.