We’d be naïve to believe everything we see in TV advertising … but some ads are pretty convincing. And sometimes they tell us what we want to hear.
If you feed Eukanuba brand dog food and you bought it because the ads told you it would help your dog live longer … we’re sorry to say, you got fooled. There’s no proof their food will do any such thing.
The US Federal Trade Commission (a federal agency with the job of protecting consumers) recently filed false advertising charges against Mars PetCare, the company that owns Eukanuba.
In 2015 Eukanuba was running TV, print and internet ads claiming they’d done a “long life study.” They said that “With Eukanuba and proper care, dogs in the study were able to live beyond their typical lifespan.” The ads showed a 17 year old Labrador Retriever, and compared her to the “typical Labrador lifespan: 12 years.”
The ads implied that the dog lived 30% longer than other Labs because she was fed Eukanuba.
The FTC Charges
The FTC says the company had no evidence to back up these life-extending claims. So the agency filed false advertising charges against Mars Petcare US Inc., the giant multinational company that owns Eukanuba.
Mars has now agreed to settle the FTC’s charges.
What this means is that Mars will have to be much more careful to tell the truth in its future advertising.
How It Works
The FTC has issued a proposed order that’s available for public comment until September 6th 2016. Then they’ll make a decision whether to issue a final order.
The order will prevent Mars from running similar deceptive advertising in the future. They won’t be allowed to make misleading or unsubstantiated claims that Eukanuba or other pet food will make dogs live 30% longer, or to make other misleading claims about the health benefits of any of their pet foods. Mars also won’t be allowed to misrepresent the details of any study or to falsely state that health benefits of their foods are scientifically proven.
If the order is made final after the comments period, it’ll contain record-keeping and monitoring requirements to make sure Mars complies with the order.
Most importantly, when the FTC issues a final order, if Mars violates it, they can be fined a civil penalty of up to $40,000 for each violation.
You can read the FTC’s press release.
And if you’d like to read the full legal settlement.