CLAIM “Kids who had a filling breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal improved their attentiveness by nearly 20 percent.”
REALITY The clinical study that Kellogg’s commissioned overstated its findings in TV spots. Only one in seven participants experienced the level of improved focus Kellogg’s advertised. Sugarcoated cereal does not, in fact, make your kid sit still in class.
PENALTY $4 million fine.
CLAIM Special flash cards and flip-books will “give your child an enormous advantage that will last for the rest of their life.”
REALITY Nope, no advantages for no amount of time. Actual neuroscientists and developmental pediatricians came forward to state the obvious: Three-year-olds can’t finish Harry Potter.
PENALTY $185 million fine. (The company only paid $500,000 before going under.)
CLAIM Take this supplement when you feel a bug approaching and the “unique natural formula of seven Herbal Extracts, Antioxidants, Electrolytes, and Amino Acids, offers guaranteed cold fighting protection.”
REALITY The company’s study was conducted by a fly-by-night “pharmaceutical services” firm that employed no doctors or lab technicians.
PENALTY $30 million fine.
CLAIM These thick-soled kicks will help you “get in shape without setting foot in a gym.”
REALITY The chiropractor who endorsed the spurious claim was not only paid by the company, but also married to one of its executives.
PENALTY $40 million in consumer refunds.
CLAIM “Sprinkle, eat, and lose weight” by adding this taste-enhancing powder to your food.
REALITY The powder—a blend of polysaccharides and calcium salts—did not make consumers feel full faster, as it claimed.
PENALTY $26.5 million in consumer refunds. (The company admitted no wrongdoing, changed its advertising scheme, and still offers the powder in horseradish, Parmesan, and taco flavors.)
*The image-sending service just admitted that its messages don’t disappear as easily as they claimed.