What happens when a multi-billion dollar company such as GlaxoSmithKline, goes head to head against a science project done by two 14 year old girls? Its a ‘vitamin C’ rich lesson in honesty.
Today, the company was fined NZ$217,000 (S$236,000) by a New Zealand Court and admitted to 15 charges of misleading advertising regarding Ribena advertising between 2002 and 2006. This was the conclusion of a discovery made in 2004 by high school girls who used the popular drink in their science project.
The science project found that Ribena contained no vitamin C which was in complete contrast to the drinks’ ad messages which claim Ribena is healthy and that black currant juice has more vitamin C than oranges (Do you guys remember that ad were the Ribena blackcurrants save the oranges?).
In New Zealand, which is where the fateful ‘experiment’ took place – Ribena ads claimed it had at least seven milligrams of vitamin C per 100 millilitres. The experiment showed it didn’t and proved that Ribena ads were full of something alright…just not vitamin C.
GlaxoSmithKline have been ordered to run corrective advertising (so they have to tell the truth) as well as put up a ‘message’ on its website.
It’s a fact that a company as rich as they are, is not going to be hurt at all by the fine but at least it’s a win for Team Moral and Team Principles. I am not saying ads always have to tell the truth (I am just as much of a fan of kooky ads and ads which make you think “as if!” as the next person) but I say if you want to use “facts” in ads then those “facts” need to be right – no excuses.
It’s like buying a toilet that doesn’t really flush – (Ok I am exaggerating and I’ve never actually gone out and bought a toilet but you get my drift).