P&G again faces false advertising claims
Procter & Gamble (P&G) stand accused of making false claims for the second time this year after a provincial advertising standards agency ordered a shampoo commercial be pulled off air last week.
According to the advertisement, the company's Pantene V shampoo makes hair ten times more resilient than normal - a claim the Zhejiang Provincial Industrial and Commercial Administration (ZPICA) have taken issue with.
But P&G were standing by the claims in the ad yesterday.
"I don't think the commercials should be banned," said Zhang Qunxiang, public affairs manager at P&G China's headquarters in Guangzhou. "We are at the proof-sharing and exchange stage with ZPICA."
Four P&G products, Pantene V and Head and Shoulders shampoos, Safeguard soap and Crest toothpaste, were originally challenged by Zhejiang's Ningbo Industrial and Commercial Bureau, over exaggerated advertising claims.
The latest allegations follow a case in March when a woman in East China's Jiangxi Province sued P&G over claims their SK-II de-wrinkle cream could "make one 12 years younger."
On Wednesday, the provincial industry and commerce authority issued an emergency ban on the Pantene V commercial to all local media stations.
It said the shampoo commercial - in claiming that it can replenish hair amino acids, thereby making it 10 times more resilient than regular hair - had violated advertising laws.
In a statement on Thursday, P&G said claims were based on laboratory tests and had been verified by an authorized testing organization. However, the company did not say what that organization was.
Wang Jun, advertising department director at the Science and Education Channel of the provincial TV station, said P&G had not bought any advertising time and the advert would not have played again anyway.
"We didn't receive any advertising orders from P&G at the end of May, indicating there would be no further P&G commercials in June," he said.
Wang Gang, an official with the ZPICA, said the agency was satisfied with negotiations with P&G on Friday, as the company had promised to revise the advert.
But P&G's Zhang said there was no timetable for amending the commercial, saying "whether the amendment would be made should be subject to further discussion with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce."
Earlier Beijing media reported that Beijing's equivalent authority had also started an investigation against P&G.
However, a source reached by China Daily revealed that authorities there had not yet launched a formal inquiry.
"We're trying to learn more about the case," said Wang Xiaojing, an official with the Beijing Municipal Industrial and Commercial Administration.
The case has drawn attention to the lack of adequate laws governing advertising.
One Beijing expert attributed the dispute to the lack of a clear definition of "false advertising" in the current Advertisement Law and Regulations on Control of Advertisements.
Yang Yi, an advertising expert with the Communication University of China, said: "Generally speaking, commercials' artistic exaggerations are separated from the factual results by a layer of mist."
(China Daily 06/29/2005 page1)