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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nutty Ads and Just Plain Nuts

Do you remember the crazy lawsuit a few years ago when a woman sued McDonald's after spilling hot coffee in her lap? After hearing about another crazy lawsuit recently (which I will get to momentarily), I looked it up to refresh my memory. The case was called Liebeck vs. McDonald's Restaurants.

Here's what happened: In 1992, Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman, ordered a 49-cent cup of coffee from the drive-through window of her local McDonald's. Liebeck was in the passenger seat of her grandson's vehicle, and he parked the car so she could add sugar and cream to her coffee. She placed the coffee cup between her knees, pulled back the lid, and proceeded to spill the entire cup in her lap. She was wearing sweatpants which quickly absorbed the hot coffee, no doubt causing a tremendous amount of pain and scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin. She was taken to the hospital where it was determined she had suffered third-degree burns. Lawsuit filed, case tried, and McDonald's lost the case. The jury awarded Liebeck $160,000 to cover her medical expenses, in addition to $2.7 million in punitive damages. (The trial judge ended up reducing the verdict, and the parties settled for a confidential amount.)

The case became notorious because of many people's opinions that it was simply ridiculous and a waste of court time. A woman suing McDonald's because she spilled hot coffee in her lap? Who the hell doesn't know that coffee is hot ... that if you put it between your knees to add cream and sugar, the possibility that it might spill is definitely there ... and if so ... doh! Serves you right, idiot!

I mention this case because it was the first thing I thought of when I heard this next ridiculous case, which resolved just this past week. Perhaps you have heard ... The company was Nutella this time. A San Diego mother filed her lawsuit against the deliciously decadent chocolate-hazelnut spread company after she claimed she was "shocked" to find out the spread wasn't as wholesomely healthy as it appeared in its commercials. Check this out:

Ummmmm .... seriously? Is this woman for real? She never read a label? She never tasted this stuff? How clueless would you have to be to think that this stuff is good for you? We have become mentally catatonic if we as a society are gullible enough to believe the sunshiny happy wholesomeness of TV commercials. Put a glass of milk beside it and it becomes good for you ... Are we really that dumb? Apparently some of us are, because this woman actually believed this stuff that she was feeding her kids was healthy. Because the commercial said so.

What's even more mind-boggling is that she won her case! Nutella settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay $3 million in damages in this class action suit. The payout boils down to $4 per jar to each claimant. (Don't get me wrong ... I love it when I hear about big business actually having to pay up, because it happens so rarely. But seriously.)

What's next ... if a commercial says that adding ginseng to heroin makes it good for you ... and throws in some cute blonde kids, a dog, a clean kitchen, and sunshine ... would some people believe it?

Before I sign off, I'd like to share another extremely annoying, stupid commercial with you. It comes from the folks at Special K, who never fail to deliver the most moronic ads.

Yeah ... the skinny model in this ad really needs her confidence boosted by exchanging the size of her jeans with words like "radiant", "ooh la la", and "va va voom", huh? What makes me want to pull my hair out even more when I watch this is the suggestion that you STILL need to diet to get into those flatteringly-labelled jeans. The original implication .... that we are all different sizes and we shouldn't judge ourselves by numbers, but by our own individual attributes ... gets shat on mere seconds after this positive suggestion being introduced. They're not saying you can get into those jeans NOW ... but two weeks of Special K and THEN you can wear the jeans labelled "sassy"! 

Face palm.


  1. That Nutella commercial, and thousands like it, are precisely why I don't watch commercials, nor do I believe most of what is said on them about the products they're trying to get me to buy.
    And I'm sorry, if anyone deserves to be sued for lying about what their product will do, Kellog is one of them - I hate to tell them, but eating Special K like the commercial says (and doing whatever else the commercial recommends) isn't going to get me into ANY of those jeans. Nor is it going to get any other woman into any of those jeans, not for very long anyway.

  2. The vast majority of commercials are just plain insipid ... and they always seem to incorporate a lot of sunlight ... as if anyone partaking of the product is guaranteed to be bathed in sunlight 24/7, lol. Special K commercials in particular make me fume. They're always so backhandedly insulting ... sure, you look great the way you are ... IF you eat our product, include it as a vital part of your diet regimen, and never stop trying to look like one our sleek young models. Ack.