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Would a False Advertising Survey Have Carried “Weight”?

Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc. will not have to face a class-action lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed diet soda did not help her lose weight. In his Aug. 21 order, Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the lawsuit that alleged the soda company's use of the word "diet" is associated with no sugar or calories, and so the plaintiff should have lost weight. Because she did not, the plaintiff alleged Dr. Pepper/Seven Up was making false advertising claims.

The complaint asked the court to order the company to stop using the word "diet" when marketing its product. Orrick disagreed a reasonable person would see diet soda as a weight loss tool. “Considering the allegations in the [complaint], I still conclude it is not plausible that reasonable consumers would believe consuming Diet Dr. Pepper leads to weight loss or healthy weight management absent a change in lifestyle,” Orrick wrote in the order.

Consumer surveys can be a powerful piece of information in proving or refuting such allegations in false advertising matters. It’s unclear whether a false advertising survey would have been beneficial for the plaintiffs or not, but it would have at least demonstrated what message a reasonable consumer takes away from the word “diet” in the context of diet soda.

Join AMS Survey Experts, Jacqueline Chorn, Ph.D. and Brian Sowers, for a webinar on consumer surveys used in false advertising matters. In this webinar, Jacqueline and Brian discuss when a false advertising survey can be useful, the basic format used for typical consumer surveys, and a series of common issues that must be taken into consideration when designing and evaluating false advertising surveys.


False Advertising