Australia has fined activewear brand Lorna Jane for falsely advertising that its LJ Shield Activewear can ‘eliminate‘, ‘stop the spread‘ and ‘protect wearers‘ against ‘viruses including Covid-19‘.
The brand has been ordered to pay $5 million (USD $3.69m) by the Australian Federal Court in penalties for making false and misleading representations to consumers, and engaging in conduct liable to mislead the public between 2 and 23 July 2020.
“Lorna Jane falsely promoted its LJ Shield Activewear as eliminating or providing protection from Covid amidst growing numbers of Covid-19 cases in Australia,” said Rod Sims, the chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
“The whole marketing campaign was based upon consumers’ desire for greater protection against the global pandemic.”
“The $5 million in penalties imposed by the Australian Federal Court highlights the seriousness of Lorna Jane’s conduct, which the judge called ‘exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous’.”
What were the claims made by Lorna Jane?
The claims made by Lorna Jane about its LJ Shield Activewear included ‘Cure for the Spread of Covid-19? Lorna Jane Thinks So‘ and ‘LJ SHIELD is a groundbreaking technology that makes transferal of all pathogens to your Activewear (and let’s face it, the one we’re all thinking about is Covid-19) impossible by eliminating the virus on contact with the fabric‘.
Lorna Jane admitted that it had falsely represented it had a scientific or technological basis for making the ‘anti-virus’ claims about its LJ Shield Activewear, when no such basis existed.
The company said that it did not have any scientific testing results showing the effectiveness of LJ Shield Activewear on viruses, including Covid-19, nor did it have any scientific results or evidence which would establish the truth of the representations.
Lorna Jane also admitted that its director and chief creative officer, Lorna Jane Clarkson, authorised and approved the LJ Shield Activewear promotional material, was involved in crafting the words and developing the imagery used in the marketing campaign and personally made some of the false statements contained in a media release and an Instagram video.
The court also ordered by consent that for a period of three years, Lorna Jane is restrained from making any ‘anti-virus‘ claims regarding its activewear clothing unless it has a reasonable basis for doing so, must publish corrective notices across the mediums utilised in the marketing campaign, must establish a consumer law compliance program, and must pay the ACCC’s costs.