Stephen Colbert made it popular, but the word “truthiness” has been around for a long time. Webster’s provides a list of definitions, including this one: (noun) : truth level of a statement; and this one: (noun) : The quality of stating what one wishes or feels to be true instead of what is actually true.
Tom’s of Maine, or more accurately, the brand’s majority owner, Colgate-Palmolive, was clearly guilty of “truthiness” when it created a webpage titled “How to Identify Organic Toothpaste.” On that page, intended primarily to promote the Tom’s of Maine toothpaste brand, the company stopped just short of overtly claiming the brand is organic. But it clearly implied that it is.
You did. And within hours, we were contacted by a manager at Tom’s, and a Colgate lawyer. They apologized, and removed the webpage.
Some of you pointed out that Tom’s of Maine toothpaste doesn’t label its product organic. That’s true, but that wasn’t the point. In addition to falsely claiming that no USDA organic certification exists for personal products like toothpaste (it does), the company did everything it could to imply that the brand is organic—including using OCA’s name to imply endorsement.
Thanks to you, Colgate is no longer playing the “truthiness” game with the Tom’s of Maine brand.
Coincidentally, days after our alert went out, the truth police at Cornucopia Institute issued this report: Behind the Dazzling Smile: Toxic Ingredients in Your Toothpaste.
Want to know which toothpaste is the most consumer-friendly? Check out Cornucopia’s Toothpaste Brand Scorecard.
The short-lived campaign against Tom’s was so successful, we thought it was high time we enlisted your help in identifying other cases of mislabeling, false advertising or Tom’s of Maine-like “truthiness.” Suspect a brand is misleading consumers? Let us know!
TAKE ACTION: Suspect a brand of false advertising or mislabeling? Let us know! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org