In recent years, many consumers have been looking to purchase all natural organic products. However, what does natural mean? To many, this word evokes images of fresh strawberries just picked out of the patch, herbs cut out of the garden, or fresh made milk from a cow. Yet, most of these images are not what come into play with natural claims in the advertising industry. To many in this field, the questions that come about include: How much of a product has to be natural in order to claim that the product is natural?, Can something be claimed as natural if there are trace amounts of synthesized elements in it? or, Is a GMO natural? All of these questions seem to lead to one question: Is any product advertised as all natural, ever really “all” natural? The answer is probably a resounding no. It is hard for the industry to make the best hair care product with no chemical binding element.
The focus in advertising law is not on what companies are putting into their products though, but how the consumer is being deceived by the premise stated above. If the consumer believes that they are buying shampoo with just strawberry extract, but the company has put in chemicals to make is soap, how can the customer know what they are about to buy? A lot of time they don’t question it, but as of late, this question has been the forefront of class action suits.
Currently, Tropicana is being singled out in California for creating a deceptive advertisement. The company states that it’s orange juice is 100% natural and not from concentrate. However, consumers are stating that the juice is actually processed, and not as natural as the company has marketed it out to be. They are particularly attacking the deceptive advertisements with the straw in the orange, which evokes images of actually drinking juice straight from the fruit. This case is just a drop in the proverbial bucket for natural claims though. California is becoming the new battle ground for these suits, which has served as a past venue for past class action cases (Big Tobacco). Ramifications will be felt by advertisers. To avoid large settlements, companies will have to figure out what all natural actually means, and how to abide by it. To discover more about this topic, come the adnauseum’s spring event on April 2! Information is on the home page of the site.