I was browsing the net yesterday when I came across this document that tabulated the false claims in advertising between the months of April to September 2008 by the Consumer Court in India.
As I scrolled through the document I was shocked to read how our Indian beauty industry was making unsubstantiated claims. Just within that one document there were 6 complaints.
Below are some of the products & the complaints against them:
1. VLCC Shape Up Anti-Cellulite Gel & OilClaim: “Reduces flab & firms skin. Beautiful arms & legs in just 14 days”, needs to be substantiated with details of tests/trials reports from an independent recognised testing institution.
Verdict: Claim not substantiated. Ad campaign concluded in July 08.
2. Olay Total Effects
Claim, “India’s best Anti-Ageing Cream”, is completely unsubstantiated and unqualified and is a mere attempt to mislead the consumers.
Verdict: Claim not substantiated adequately. TVC withdrawn.
3. Fair & Lovely Multivitamin fairness cream
Ad claims, “Fair & Lovely Duniya Ki No.1 fairness cream”. Super refers to “Based on volume sales in key skin lightening markets, as per AC Nielsen retail panel”. This contradicts the claim of “world’s no.1” position since the data is restricted only to a select key skin lightening markets and not to the entire markets world wide.
Claim, “Fair & Lovely hai anya international creams se behtar”, is misleading as it conveys to the consumers that Fair & Lovely is better than all the other competing brands in the market.
Claim, “Aur consumers ne ise chuna 100 mein se 99 baar”, is ambiguous, confusing and in fact misleading. This leads to an impression that the consumer was given a variety of creams to choose from and out of which he opted for Fair & Lovely.
Verdict: Claims were misleading. Advertiser informed that the TVC has been off air since 1st August 2008, well before receiving the ASCI letter (decision of the CCC).
4.Ponds Flawless White
Claim, “only the Ponds Flawless White cream can make your skin flawless white within 7 days of usage”, is highly exaggerated and unsubstantiated and has the potential of misleading the gullible consumers.
Verdict: Claim is misleading by exaggeration. TV campaign discontinued since 30th April 08. Advertiser assured
appropriate modification of the Ad
5. Pond’s Age Miracle Cream
TVC starts with a question – “Can your cream do this in just 7 days? Take up Pond’s Age Miracle 7 days challenge. If in 7 days you don’t start looking young, then you will get your money back”.
Print Ad states - “Pond’s Age Miracle cream does what no other anti-ageing cream can. It reduces age spots and brings about a visible change in wrinkles in just 7 days.* And that’s a challenge. If it doesn’t work, you get your money back”. It is clear that the claim made in the TVC and in print Ad, is supported by a clinical test carried out on an “untreated skin” i.e. on consumers who were not using any cream.
Therefore, even assuming without admitting that the said tests/results are relevant, the mere fact of the advertiser targeting the consumer with a question “Can your cream do this?” assumes consumers currently using some other cream.
Verdict: The claim is false and misleading the consumers and is directly denigrating and discrediting the efficacy of the similar products available in the market place.
Claim was not supported by a comparative data with other leading creams, and was not substantiated.
Advertiser informed that the Ad was aired from 1st September 2007 to 23rd December 2007, and the same is no longer on air.
No public apology or intimation was made to the public by any of these companies post action by the consumer court. Most adverts were just quietly withdrawn. The consumer however is none the wiser. The consumer still believes these claims.
While there is no denying that some of these may be very excellent products, which really do work. But there also is a limit to exaggeration and false claims. Selling products that are not backed by research for safety & efficacy is a gross violation by the company of consumer trust who spend their hard earned money on these products.
And because of the sky high claims, the consumer is set up for disappointment. I remember when I got a very bad case of sun-burn & had turned to Garnier Light to reduce the tan. As they claimed, I expected two shades lighter within a week. Nothing of the sort happened. Frustrated at the 'non-performance' the cream was dumped & it still lies somewhere in a corner of my cosmetic pile.
Have you had similar experinces? Do share them here with other readers..