ACCC cracks down on the fluff in advertising
It’s probably fair to say that “truth in advertising” is a pretty elastic concept. But for those businesses that like to stretch that band an inch too far may find themselves stretched further by the ACCC.
On 12 July 2012 the ACCC announced that it had commenced proceedings against duck meat manufacturer Pepe’s Ducks Ltd, alleging false, misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to the promotion and supply of its products.
The allegations focus on claims made by Pepe’s Ducks on its packaging, website, delivery trucks, signage, stationery and merchandise. These include representations that its duck meat products were sourced from “open range” ducks, “grown nature’s way” and – our favourite part – that certain representations included a picture of a duck living outside near a lake. According to the ACCC, Pepe’s ducks reside in sheds, with no access to the outdoors.
In addition to a monetary penalty, the ACCC wants Pepe’s Ducks to implement a trade practices compliance program and publish corrective notices.
The announcement of the proceedings against Pepe’s Ducks follows the ACCC’s recent success against Apple relation to its “iPad with WiFi + 4G” campaign. On 21 June 2012, the Federal Court ordered Apple to pay $2.25 million in civil penalties for misleading advertising, after determining that Apple’s “iPad with WiFi + 4G” could not actually connect to any networks which have been promoted in Australia as 4G networks.
Commenting on the Apple proceedings, Chairman Rod Sims said: “The Federal Court has again recognized the need to protect consumers from misleading advertising in the telecommunications and related sectors. This decision should act as a renewed warning that the ACCC will continue to take action against traders who take risks in their advertising, regardless of their size.”