Reading time: 3 minutes

Gruen returns for its eighth season. But aside from host, Wil Anderson’s banter and Tom Sampson’s t-shirts, people enjoy the show for its analysis and critique of the ads they view every day. Sitting on a couch, listening to the panel may feel as if you are in the board room at an advertising agency, but their work is important and highlights how ads can misguide, mislead and coerce individuals. How can you then avoid falling victim to an advertisement’s buzzwords and hyperbolic claims? We look at five misleading advertisements below, and set out the key takeaways for businesses and consumers.

Kleenex’s “Flushable Wipes”

Kleenex sold “flushable wipes” and promoted their product as disintegrating as toilet paper. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case. During recent Choice testing, the wipes did not disintegrate even after 20 hours of flush testing.  If your product doesn’t do what you advertised it would, this is likely to be a problem.

IKEA’s “Leather” Lounge

Earlier this year, IKEA advertised a polyurethane lounge in the leather section of their website, providing a false impression to consumers.

Olay Definity Eye Cream

In 2009, Olay promoted their “Definity eye cream” by showing a 62 year old Twiggy virtually wrinkle free. This retouching and gross misrepresentation of products was taken from the air when the misrepresentation was highlighted.

Groupon Ad-Word Misuse

A San Francisco tour company sued Groupon for misleading ads in Google. Groupon used keywords related to tourist attractions but unrelated to their coupons to trigger ads.

New Balance “Calorie Burners”

New Balance claimed to have shoes that activated glute, calves and hamstrings and consequently burned calories. They explained that they achieved these results with “secret technology”. Unfortunately, these results were less a case of “calorie burning” footwear, but of New Balance’s misleading advertising. 

What do Businesses Need to Know About Misleading Advertising?

Businesses should know that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regulates consumer law, and advocates for consumer rights. It is then your obligation to present accurate and truthful information and messages about your products and services to your consumers. Methods of communication include:

  • Advertising,
  • Packaging,
  • Online activity,
  • Logos,
  • Endorsements, or
  • Sales pitches.  

What do Consumers Need to Know About Misleading Advertising?

If you are a consumer, it falls on you to report any misleading conduct or misrepresentation to the ACCC. You should also proactively research what constitutes misleading or deceptive conduct in advertising, and be mindful of fanciful claims or misrepresentations.

What is Allowed in Advertising?

Australian Consumer Law (ACL) mandates honest advertising practices.  You cannot make illegal claims, and you can’t mislead your consumers through false advertising or fine print. Although, you can use puffery.

All information provided to your customers must be current and correct, and you should take care to use simple and clear language. You must also correct all misunderstandings, and misleading information borne by your advertisements. Finally, you must be able to substantiate your claims with evidence where appropriate. 

You don’t want your business featured on Gruen for the wrong reasons! You would rather your agency be invited to create an ad on the show, rather than the subject of Russell Howcroft’s biting criticsm. 

Questions about misleading advertising and Australia’s Consumer Law? Get in touch.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards