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‘Predatory & dangerous behavior’: Australian brand fined nearly $4 million over misleading advertising of ‘anti-viral’ activewear

‘Predatory & dangerous behavior’: Australian brand fined nearly $4 million over misleading advertising of ‘anti-viral’ activewear
The brand was fined AU$5 million (some $3.7 million) by the Federal Court of Australia on Friday. In addition to the fine, the company was ordered to publish corrective notices for its ill-fated ad campaign.

Australian label Lorna Jane has been slapped with a huge fine over an advertising campaign that promoted clothes said to protect wearers from viruses such as Covid-19, having allegedly been treated with some miraculous compound.

The case against Lorna Jane stemmed from an advertising campaign, conducted back in July 2020, promoting a line of activewear that would allegedly protect wearers from bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19. The brand claimed the clothing had been treated with a mysterious, “water-based, non-toxic” solution, dubbed ‘LJ Shield’ that was somehow able to kill the germs.

Announcing the ruling, Judge Darryl Rangiah said the company had preyed on the uncertainty that prevailed during the coronavirus pandemic. It had misled its customers and sought “to profit from the fear,” pretending “it had a reasonable scientific or technological basis” for the claims, although it had none.

“Lorna Jane sought to exploit that fear and concern of the public through the use of misleading, deceptive, and untrue representations about the properties of LJ Shield activewear,” the judge said.

The behavior of Lorna Jane can only be described as exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous.

Lorna Jane had already been fined AU$40,000 (nearly $28,000) for its stunt last year, but that did not spare the company from a lawsuit launched by the nation’s consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“This was dreadful conduct, as it involved making serious claims regarding public health when there was no basis for them,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

Also on rt.com ‘False sense of security’: Australian brand faces $28,000 fine over ‘anti-virus activewear’ line

The company has accepted the court ruling, acknowledging it had misled its customers. Nonetheless, Lorna Jane CEO Bill Clarkson insists it was an honest mistake on the company’s part, rather than a case of deliberate false advertising. He shifted the blame for the LJ Shield fiasco on an undisclosed “trusted supplier” that had allegedly duped the company into thinking the technology was legitimate.

“A trusted supplier sold us a product that did not perform as promised,” Clarkson said in a statement. “They led us to believe the technology behind LJ Shield was being sold elsewhere in Australia, the USA, China, and Taiwan and that it was both antibacterial and antiviral. We believed we were passing on a benefit to our customers.”

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