Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Full of it

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).


VforVendettaSG said...

I wonder if GlaxoSmithKline in other countries (eg Singapore) is also rushing to get schoolgirls to test their VitC content..??

Having done my BSc in Food Science & Nutrition, let me reassure you that when it comes food advertising there can be NO room for ambiguity. Misleading ads in food products can be a matter of life and death and, Mr Blogger, no there is NO room for "creative" advertising to mislead consumers when it is related to food & drinks products.

But thanks for bringing this to the fore :)

Marcus said...

I've just read a report that has GSK in Singapore saying the products here do contain what they claim.

Also, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority in Singapore will still test the product to determine the actual level of vitamin C.

Rennie the Soh said...

That's right. Also, I think our media owners I are savvy (or anal, depending on how you view it) enough to ask advertisers to substantiate all nutrient claims in all product advertisments.

AVA does test for specific levels of ingredients, but the silly thing (maybe they are covering their own ass, I dunno) is that they WILL NOT give you a black and white saying that yes, your product does contain a certain amount of XX substance.