Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ribena maker fined

Two days ago, the maker of the Ribena blackcurrent syrup, pharmaceutical giant Glaxosmithkline, was fined $NZ217,500 ($A192,900) for deceptive advertising in a New Zealand court.

Glaxosmithkline admitted that its ready to drink cartons of Ribena did not, in fact, have "four times the Vitamin C of oranges". Instead of the claimed 7mg of vitamin C per 100ml, the Ribena in fact had no detectable vitamin C at all.

The false advertising came to light in 2004, when two New Zealand schoolgirls, Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo, tested the children's drink for a school project, and found no Vitamin C. Glaxosmithkline ignored their complaint until it was taken up by the New Zealand Commerce Commission.

The case is seen as a win for consumer correction, but it isn't really. Glaxosmithkline got to lie in their advertising for at least four years, and possibly as many as fifty-five years. I remember the claim from their advertising thirty years ago. And now that they've got caught out, the punishment is 0.00102% of one single year's profit.

That'll learn them.

The only bright side of the case for consumers is that Glaxosmithkline has been ordered to run corrective television advertising, which will embarass them for a few months and cost them sales. Why, by the time the whole thing blows over, it is quite possible that they'll have lost an entire day's profit.

1 comment:

Fiddy said...

Meet GSK's Larry Liebena -