Georgia-Pacific Sues P&G for False Advertising by Bounty

Claims That New Paper Towels Are Thicker Are False, Says Marketer

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Brawny paper-towel marketer Georgia-Pacific Corp. is suing Procter & Gamble Co. for falsely advertising "25% thicker quilts" on its Bounty towels.

Thicker quilts doesn't necessarily mean thicker towels.
Thicker quilts doesn't necessarily mean thicker towels.
The quilts (or indented impressions) on the new towels may be thicker but the towels themselves aren't, according to Georgia-Pacific. The Atlanta-based unit of Koch Industries compared several samples of the improved product to prior Bounty offerings and found the new towels were at most 5% thicker and, in some cases, thinner than before, according to a complaint filed March 18 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

To support its claim that people see the "thicker quilts" claim as meaning the towel itself is thicker, Georgia-Pacific cited a story from The Wall Street Journal last month that said the new Bounty ads ask "'Why use more when you can use less?' and introduce an upgrade to the company's core Bounty paper towels, which now promise a 25% thicker sheet."

According to G-P's complaint, "there are no substantiated performance benefits attributable to having 25% thicker quilts," though Bounty's TV ad from Publicis Worldwide, New York, promises it "cleans the mess with less."

'Unfair competition'
"P&G's motivation for knowingly misleading the public, namely the single-minded effort to obtain greater sales and market share at any cost, is reflected in a long history of unfair competition and deceptive trade practices," G-P charges in its suit.

To support that claim, it cites yet another Journal story, from 2003, in which P&G Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley is said to believe "an advantage in the market is worth a loss in the courtroom."

That story has been fodder for at least two other false-advertising litigants against P&G since then, including Playtex, which won a ruling against P&G regarding Tampax Pearl ads, and Colgate-Palmolive Co., which lost in a jury trial regarding Crest Whitestrips advertising.

Georgia-Pacific is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the ads, a nationwide recall of packaging bearing the "25% thicker quilts" claim, unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, any profits P&G has made from the product and triple damages due to "the willful nature of P&G's false advertising."

A P&G spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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