Ribena Case likely to leave public feeling less cordial
Source: Smh (Sydney morning herald).com.au
RIBENA'S mea culpa over its false advertising claims is expected to trigger a downturn in sales of blackcurrant cordial, according to rival manufacturers who are reviewing their marketing in light of GlaxoSmithKline's troubles.
On Tuesday Glaxo was fined $NZ227,500 ($201,000) by the New Zealand competition watchdog for making misleading claims about the vitamin C content of its ready-to-drink cordial. The fine came a week after Glaxo dobbed itself in to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for making the claim that "the blackcurrants in Ribena contain four times the vitamin C of oranges".
The company, which has 55 per cent of the $16.5 million blackcurrant cordial category, admits the episode will hurt its brand and possibly sales.
Glaxo has distanced itself from the furore by handing the issue to an external public relations agency.
The agency said last night in a statement: "We've had some direct consumer feedback since the findings, both negative and supportive of the brand. We know there's a lot of loyalty for Ribena brand and anything that compromises the trust of this well loved brand will have a negative effect." The company was exploring ways to restore public confidence in the category.
Glaxo has said it has removed the "four times" claim from its packaging and that it would conduct consumer tests to ensure shoppers were not confused.
Glaxo and those vitamin C claims: industry voices speak out
Lesley Brydon, executive director, Advertising Federation of Australia: Just because one advertiser has apparently broken the law, it doesn't mean that all advertisers and marketers are likely to do so. All companies - and individuals - have an obligation to comply with the laws.
And all advertisers and agencies are required to comply with Section 52 of the Trade Practices Act with regard to misleading and deceptive advertising. The AFA takes this obligation very seriously. It is a requirement of the AFA Accreditation Program that staff working with advertisers making claims must do an AFA Trade Practices workshop.
Kim Terakes, food marketing consultant: You can hardly single out GlaxoSmithKline about its indiscretion with Ribena when smoke and mirrors, rather than actual mis-truths, are the status quo for many food marketers. The poor shopper is entitled to be confused. Coco Pops, Nutella and Milky Bars have quasi-healthy positioning. Cottee's cordial is good for kids because they should drink water.
Woolworths trumpets its commitment to fresh Australian produce in TV campaigns but then tries to find anything grown outside Australia for its canned Select range.
And there is the recent Choice study into "health" bars, finding some muesli bars with more fat than two rashers of bacon, others with more kilojoules than a Mars Bar. It's not about moralising; it's simply the way many food marketers behave.