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Palm oil: can PR pay off?

Palm Oil: Can PR Pay Off?

It would be sad...if it weren't misleading and dishonest.

By early 1989, the Malaysian palm oil industry had lost its battle to convince Americans that palm oil is healthful. Most of the major U.S. food companies had already announced plans to remove palm, palm kernel, and coconut oils from their foods. The moves followed years of effort by CSPI and hard-hitting ads from the National Heart Savers Association.

In February, hoping to stave off the inevitable, the Malaysian Oil Palm Growers' Council launched a $10 million counterattack, starting with $200,000 worth of full-page ads in USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.

Fair enough.

But the content of those ads is far from fair. Indeed, they include the most deceptive, dangerous claims we have seen in our 18-year history. They toss around words like "cancer" and "cholesterol" as though they were talking about "snap, crackle, and pop."

Neither the palm oil industry nor Hill and Knowlton, its high-powered public-relations firm, seems to understand that deceptive advertising is not only unethical; it's illegal. CSPI has asked the Better Business Bureau to investigate the campaign.

In the meantime, here is our annotated version of the ad.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:palm oil industry's public relations efforts
Author:Liebman, Bonnie
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:May 1, 1989
Previous Article:Tackling high blood pressure.
Next Article:Salty snacks.

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