P&G Faces New False Ad Lawsuit

27 November 2003

Procter & Gamble has been hit with a fifth false advertising lawsuit in the US in just thirteen months.

Colgate-Palmolive is the plaintiff this time, following suits from Kimberly-Clark, Playtex Products, Georgia-Pacific [WAMN: 15-Oct-03] and a joint venture between Johnson & Johnson and Merck [WAMN: 15-Sep-03].

Colgate is unhappy with an ad for P&G's Crest Night Effects toothpaste. The commercial appears to show the plaintiff's Simply White Night product disintegrating when soaked with water, while its P&G rival stays in one piece.

"P&G's conduct here is egregious," declares the suit. "[Its] false comparative advertising, particularly in its recent television commercials, threatens to irreparably impair, and potentially destroy, the value of Colgate's investment by falsely portraying Colgate's products as ineffective."

P&G -- whose ads have taken a more aggressive tone in recent years as it tries to boost sales -- insisted it would "vigorously respond to show that our advertising is fully accurate and substantiated."

However, there are signs the consumer goods colossus is tiring of courtroom action. Last month, ceo A G Lafley revealed he was in talks with rival firms to try to prevent more false ad lawsuits. P&G has also tried to reach settlements with some of its recent accusers -- Kimberly-Clark agreed to drop its legal action after P&G removed references to Huggies diapers from ads for Pampers, while Georgia-Pacific has put its suit on hold while the two sides enter arbitration.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff