Skins seeks closure on misleading advertising case

skinsAn embarassing episode is nearing an end for sports company Skins with the publication today of an advertisement confessing to the Australian marketing industry that it had engaged in unlawful conduct.

The brand’s print and radio advertising had claimed: “We don’t pay sports stars to wear our product. They pay us.”

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gathered evidence that the company had paid a number of athletes to endorse the product and took Skins to the Federal Court. The sports stars included cricketer Brett Lee, along with the Western Bulldogs, St Kilda and Melbourne Football Clubs, the Wests Tigers rugby league club and rugby union club The Waratahs. The brand spent a total of well over a million dollars on endorsements and free products.

Last month, Skins was fined $120,000 and ordered in the ruling to place the advertisement in B&T, to broadcast one on SBS, which went out at the start of the year, and to put a message on its own website.

The half page ad appears in today’s print edition of B&T magazine. It states: “Skins now accepts that we engaged in conduct that was not lawful. Skins acknowledges that we have a responsibility not to mislead consumers by the way in which we advertise and promote our products.”

The debacle also led to disappointment for The Furnace, Skins’ advertising agency, which was not involved in the legal action. Last month it was told by the Advertising Federation of Australia to give back awards it won for the campaign, the first time in the history of the organisation’s Effectiveness Awards that such a step had been taken.

After the case, ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel, said: “It should serve as a warning to business that the ACCC will take action in the public interest against those who engage in misleading advertising or resale price maintenance.”


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