P&G accepts fine for 'bogus' advertising
P&G, a US-based transnational cosmetics giant, has accepted a heavy fine for the "bogus advertisement" of its "legendary" skincare product SKII, according to a local newspaper in East China's Jiangxi Province.
The Xinxi Daily reported the Nanchang Commercial and Industrial Bureau in the provincial capital of Jiangxi had settled on a fine of 200,000 yuan (US$24,000) after a 20-day investigation into SKII, which was accused of "adverse reactions" by a local consumer.
However, the "miracle water" failed to work miracles on her face. Instead, it provoked an allergic reaction which left the woman in pain.
Lu said she was misled by the product's exaggerated commercials and took SKII and its maker P&G to court in March.
The local commercial and industrial watchdog told the newspaper that local SKII counters failed to provide evidence of the "miraculous" effects, said to be able to "reduce crow's feet by 47 per cent and rejuvenate the skin to make it look 12 years younger after 28 days of application."
The watchdog said the statistics came from a laboratory experiment on 300 Japanese women, and lacked authoritative proof.
The bureau therefore brought an end to the circulation of handouts that contained the "bogus claims," and ordered the accused to settle the fine in 15 days.
Though the newspaper said P&G had already agreed to pay the penalty, no one from the firm was available for comment on the fine, nor its amount.
The bureau has also conducted an investigation into SKII's ingredients in response to another of Lu's accusations that the skincare formula contained "unsafe ingredients."
The results showed the product passed all pH tests, and contained amounts of formaldehyde, lead, arsenic and hydrargyrum within safe parametres.
But "the local examination centre was not well enough equipped to run checks on other chemicals," the newspaper reported.
P&G China spokesperson Feng Jialu has said repeatedly the product was safe, and the only problem lay in its advertising.
An SKII saleswoman at the Pacific Department Store in Beijing said the lawsuit has had little impact on sales as "old customers keep coming back."
However, some media revealed 12 per cent of SKII's frequent users doubted the product's quality, "according to a confidential survey conducted by P&G early this month," the media reported.
"I will stop using it until the court draws a conclusion," said You Yanhong, 32, who used to be fascinated with the "miracle water."
The local court said the hearing was expected to begin later this month.
P&G said it employs nearly 98,000 people working in almost 80 countries worldwide. What began as a small, family-operated soap and candle company now provides products and services to consumers in 140 countries.
It said the company has one of the largest and strongest portfolios of trusted brands, including Pampers, Tide, Ariel, Always, Pantene, Bounty, Folgers, Pringles, Charmin and Downy.
(China Daily 04/11/2005 page2)