Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oh Deceit, Thy Home Is Marketing

Two reports came out yesterday suggesting that folks forget the basic tenets taught to children -- don't lie or trick people.

First, there was the announcement about the yogurt settlement. Dannon, the maker of the Activia brand of yogurt, settled a class action claim alleging marketing misrepresentation. It agreed to refund $35 million to consumers harmed by its false advertising. The class plaintiff alleged that the commercials for Activia falsely touted the product's benefits to digestive health, falsely claiming that consuming this yogurt for two weeks would clear up what may clog you up, internally speaking. As a result of the settlement, consumers can apply for a cash refund (you need to fill in a form) and Dannon's ad agency will have to reinvent the marketing approach for this product, hopefully in line with reality.

Second, there was a settlement announcement of the class action case against Facebook. The class plaintiffs sued Facebook for tracking personal information about Facebook users through the Beacon feature. Apparently, Facebook thought that it would be a good idea to track the personal comings and goings of folks on the Internet, sometimes without consent or notice, and sometimes when Internet users were not online at Facebook. Facebook's spying device, Beacon, amassed this information for Facebook marketing purposes. When users became aware that their private Internet usage was in fact being traced, they sued. And now Facebook is throwing in the towel, terminating Beacon, and contributing $9.5 million in funding toward a new foundation to study Internet privacy. Facebook can certainly provide instruction as to what not to do.

These pesky class action cases sure have a way of spoiling a good marketing idea!

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