FTC WHACKS PROFESSOR WONDER

Wonder Bread Settles on Memory-Improving Nutrient Claim

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Wonder Bread's advertising is going to get a little more ordinary after Interstate Bakeries
Professor Wonder spoke to children from both the TV and the Internet.
Corp. and its ad agency, Campbell Mithun, settled charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission.

In an unusual health-claim-related action against a major marketer, the FTC accused Interstate Bakeries of making an unsubstantiated health claims for a food.

Interstate Bakeries and its Minneapolis-based Interpublic Group of Cos. agency each agreed to settle the case without admitting guilt or wrongdoing.

Professor Wonder
The FTC challenged a TV spot and Internet page featuring a character named Professor Wonder that said Wonder Bread not only builds healthy bones but helps children's minds and memories work better because it contains extra calcium.

The FTC said neither Interstate Bakeries nor Campbell

A Professor Wonder TV spot showed neurons transmitting signals in children's brains and said that Wonder Bread 'builds strong minds.'
Mithun had substantiated the claim that children's memories would improve.

"The advertising didn't have scientific support," said Mary Engle, FTC associate director of advertising practices.

While the FTC continues to raise concerns about health claims by makers of various vitamin supplements, the commission hasn't taken action against a major marketer on similar claims in several years, she said.

The TV ad ran from August to December 2000 and then was pulled, while the Web page continued into early 2001.

Interstate Bakeries in a statement today said the ad was pulled before any threat of FTC action "because the campaign was judged by the company to be ineffective." The company said it believed it had provided sufficient substantiation for its claim but agreed to settle because the ad was off the air and of the high cost of litigation.

Settles with Palm
In a separate action today, the FTC announced a settlement with Palm Inc. that will bar the company from claiming in ads that its personal digital devices come with built-in wireless access when, in fact, consumers have to purchase and carry a wireless modem to connect.

The FTC last April settled charges against Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. that made similar ad claims for their handheld devices.

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