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Misleading Marketing = PR Problems

I can tell you that I’m a sucker for pretty product packaging. An easy target for a marketer, as my boyfriend frequently points out. However, I will say I’ve gotten smarter when it comes to not buying something based solely on a label’s looks (or the claims it makes). This weekend is MDW, the unofficial start of summer. As the summer beach season approaches, I’d like to take a moment and point out some marketing gimmicks to watch out for in something that directly applies to the sunbathing you will (hopefully) be enjoying this weekend: your sunscreen.

As a fair-skinned individual who burns easily in the sun, and does not end up with the slightest hint of tan to show for it, I take my SPF seriously. But you won’t find me slathering on SPF 100. Why? Allow me to introduce gimmick #1. Beyond SPF 50, the UV protection hardly increases – it doesn’t mean that by wearing SPF 100, you have twice the protection of SPF 50.

You should also know there is no “waterproof” or “sweatproof” sunscreen – water resistant is a different story, but there have to be test results to back up this claim. And did you know that some sunscreens used to be made with only UVB protection (the rays that cause sunburn), but no UVA protection (the ones that cause wrinkles and skin cancer)? Look for one that says “broad spectrum” – this will protect from both. Luckily, it’s something consumers won’t have to worry about anymore thanks to new FDA regulations that took effect in December. Companies have to include UVA and UVB protection in their products now.

Of course, in this age where consumer knowledge spreads like wildfire thanks to a little something we’ll call the Internet, you’d think marketers would be a bit more selective when they make misleading claims. Eventually, the ambiguity is unmasked, and there is a host of disgruntled consumers that brands have to make it up to. PR team enters stage left.

Jillian Verpent, Account Coordinator and Real Jersey Shore Girl


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