Brands on notice as The Checkout returns to air following Reckitt Benckiser High Court decision

The ABC’s consumer affairs program The Checkout returns to TV screens for its fifth season tonight with presenter Julian Morrow from The Chaser saying he is hopeful the show will soon have legal action against it in every state in the country.

Speaking to Mumbrella ahead of the show’s premiere, Morrow quipped: “This is season number five so it’s a real testament to how ineffective The Checkout actually is that we keep coming back for new series.”

Despite Morrow’s levity on the show’s impact, The Checkout can claim some credit in contributing to Reckitt Benckiser being handed the biggest fine in  Australian consumer law history after the High Court rejected an appeal against a $6m penalty imposed for claiming Nurofen could target specific pain areas, ending a two-year court battle.

The Checkout produced a segment highlighting the claims by Nurofen back in 2013.

Morrow said: “It looks like Nurofen’s ads have caused them a very specific type of headache. What a shame Nurofen can’t actually provide targeted relief. But Ibuprofen still acts faster than the legal system when it comes to relief.”

Another brand which has faced the wrath of The Checkout is vitamins brand Swisse. The CJZ-produced show called into question the professional relationship between Swisse founder and CEO Radek Sali and his father Avni Sali who founded the National Institute of Integrative Medicine and conducted a clinical trial of Swisse vitamins. The patriarch filed legal action against the program, arguing it severely injured his reputation.

Morrow joked he was very disappointed with the amount of legal action the show has faced.

“The number of lawsuits that we’ve had in previous years is very disappointing. I’ve specifically spoken to the team about trying to get sued more. I know the ABC is very enthusiastic about that. My dream is to actually have a case running in every single state and territory in Australia at the same time,” he said.

Julian Morrow: Disappointed with how much legal action The Checkout has faced

Morrow wouldn’t be drawn on if Swisse will feature in the new season, however he did comment on the company’s submission to the federal government on regulatory rules for complementary medicine advertising.

“Our very good friends at Swisse made a submission to the federal government about changing the way advertising for complementary medicines was regulated. You won’t be surprised to hear our view is slightly different from Swisse’s on what might be appropriate changes to make,” he said.

“They do seem to want the Therapeutic Goods Association to have less oversight over their ads and I wonder if that has something to do with the fact that we looked at 38 cases of complaints about advertising to the TGA which Swisse was involved in and Swisse lost 33 of them. That influences our view on why Swisse doesn’t want the TGA to look at them.”

On what audiences can expect from the show, he said tonight’s episode will have a new segment called Retail Therapy.

“The first episode will have a segment called Retail Therapy in it which looks at some of the psychological research into consumer habits and so we’ve got this idea of a shopper who goes to see a shrink to try and understand why they are making all of these impulsive decisions,” Morrow said.

On the common themes for 2017’s season Morrow said consumers are concerned around the way technology is being used.

“A big concern for consumers is generally the way that technology tends to structure or change the choices we think we’re making and that’s becoming a bigger concern – everything from realising how the algorithms to sort your search results when you use Google shopping to people who are getting different insurance offers based on data about their buying preferences at the supermarket. They’re the sort of issues which are looming larger and larger,” he said.


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