14 Ridiculous Corporate Spin Quotes
"Cigarettes don't cause cancer."
"Seatbelts are dangerous and shouldn't be mandatory."
From pictures of blue skies plastered across gas station pumps, to tobacco companies spending millions of dollars just to advertise their good deeds, major corporations are focused on shaping public opinion in their favor.
Here are 14 examples of questionable corporate spin at work
Skechers: "Get in shape without setting foot in a gym."
Skechers (Official Site)
In May 2012, the Federal Trade Commission said the shoemaker deceived consumers with claims that wearing its round-bottom "toning" sneakers improved muscle tone and aided weight loss better than regular workout shoes. The company's $40 million settlement requires that to remove some fitness claims from advertisements and offer refunds to customers who bought the shoes. Skechers stands by their claims, but agreed to the terms of the settlement to avoid a drawn-out legal battle.
Apple: "We insist that all of our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes."
In January, a New York Times expose critiqued Apple factories in China: "Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms." The story added: "Under-age workers have helped build Apple's products according to company reports." The company's sleek public image was dented by a deadly explosion in an iPad plant in China in 2011 and several suicides among workers for Apple manufacturers there. After the incidents, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association and has agreed to investigations by the labor-rights group.
14. Ticketmaster: "At Ticketmaster, we strive to put fans first."
In 2011, two customers won a class action lawsuit against the ticket sales behemoth. The lawsuit claimed Ticketmaster profited off misleading order processing fees and expedited delivery fees. Ticketmaster denied that the fees were misleading, but has agreed to clarify that the fees earn them a profit. Meanwhile, after Bruce Springsteen fans complained about "instant sell-outs" and seeing tickets quickly relisted on TicketsNow, which is owned by Ticketmaster, CEO Irving Azoff told the media: "We sincerely apologize to Bruce, his organization and, above all, his fans."
Facebook: "We work on user privacy issues each and every day."
Publix: "We seek to do business with suppliers who provide an enviable workplace for their employees."
The suppliers of tomatoes to Publix supermarkets pay their farm workers 50 cents per 32-pound bucket of tomatoes. And the mostly undocumented workers have no access to health insurance, sick pay, or the right to organize to improve conditions. Publix hasn't joined McDonald's and other companies in the Campaign for Fair Food in Florida, in which companies pay an extra penny per bucket that is passed on to workers. Publix insists it already pays "a fair market price."
Google : "We're not altering any of your privacy settings"
"...We just want to use the information you already trust us with to make your experience better."
Nutella: "When used in moderation with complementary foods, Nutella® is a quick and easy tool to encourage kids to eat whole grains, such as whole wheat toast."
In April 2012, Ferrero U.S.A., the company that makes Nutella, settled lawsuits filed by two moms who said they were duped by advertisements claiming that the chocolate-hazelnut spread could be part of a nutritious breakfast. The moms said they were shocked when they realized the fat and sugar content of the spread was similar to that of a candy bar. Ferrero is offering refunds to customers, but insists the spread can be included as a part of a healthy, balanced breakfast.
Mazda: "Certified Truffula Tree Friendly"
Environmentalists fumed over Mazda's compact SUV advertising tie-in with Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. Mazda may have decided on this line of marketing because their new SUV is "focused on achieving exceptional environmental performance for a compact SUV." Green activists said the car company's new SkyActiv technology improves fuel efficiency only marginally and continues to pollute the environment. They said using the famous Truffula Tree hugger to shill for a car was the worst kind of greenwashing.
Cigarette companies: Our products are "low tar," "light," "ultra light" and "mild"
According to USA Today, a 2006 court ruling (upheld in 2009 by the US Circuit Court of Appeals), "found cigarette makers deceived the public for decades about the health hazards of smoking." The various companies mentioned in the ruling did not respond publicly to media requests.
The Corn Refiners Association: "High fructose corn syrup is basically the same as sugar."
A handful of studies have found that high fructose corn syrup increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes and may do more than sugar to cause obesity. The Corn Refiners Association disagrees, having spent a mint on ad campaigns fighting what they call "myths" about corn syrup. They also petitioned to change the name to corn sugar for labeling purposes, but were denied by the Food and Drug Administration.
Monsanto: "We deliver high-quality products that are beneficial to our customers and the environment."
Image: Dave Hoisington / Wikipedia
Dietary watchdogs like the Organic Consumers Association claim Monsanto, the giant agri-business, is harming the environment and people's health with its production of genetically engineered crops, pesticide products, and synthetic hormone (rGHB) used to increase milk production in cows. (Activists and some organic food companies are calling for GMO labeling in the U.S. similar to the labeling requirements in Europe.) Monsanto says the studies that determined its activities are harmful do not even exist.
British Petroleum: Annual #Beach Water Report released today include info on improved conditions since #BP #oilspill
Image: Infrogmation / Wikimedia Commons
The National Resources Defense Council called the oil company's tweet about their 2011 report "Orwellian." They said the report outlined how fisherman, beachgoers, swimmers, dolphins and other marine life, and beach businesses were still coping with contaminated waters and that the ultimate environmental and financial damage is still unknown. BP stands by the report.
Electronic Arts: "We're sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren't nominated this year."
That was EA's response to winning the "Worst Company in America: 2012" poll run by The Consumerist. Disgruntled gamers say EA of bought out innovative competitors only to crush their creativity. They were also enraged that the company sells separate, downloadable content instead of including it with new games. Many said EA's snide response illustrated the company's disregard for its customers' opinions. EA says: "We're going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide."
Wal-Mart: "We continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation."
Image: tomf688 / Wikipedia
Congress is investigating after a New York Times story claimed that Wal-Mart covered up an internal investigation into allegations that company officials were bribing Mexican officials in order to obtain quick permits to build new stores. (Chronic criticisms of the big box retailer also include allegations of union busting, poor working conditions, low wages, use of sweatshop labor, and sexual discrimination.) In May, Reuters said: "U.S. lawmakers investigating Wal-Mart for alleged bribery in Mexico are frustrated by the lack of cooperation they have received from the company, a committee staffer familiar with the investigation said."