Thanks to our main ho at TheJayFK for giving us a heads up on this legal brief. "Dial" F for fail!
A team of San Diego lawyers have filed a class action suit against Dial Corp. and its parent company, Germany-based Henkel, claiming that the company's Dial for Men Magnetic body wash does not live up to its marketing promise as a liquid chick magnet.
How could hapless consumers be hoodwinked into thinking a soap could actually help them score with the ladies? Because of the (pseudo) science behind the product's claims: Dial for Men Magnetic Moisture Rich and Clean-Rinsing labels describe the soaps as "pheromone-infused" and "attraction-enhancing."
Pheromones' effect on humans is mostly misunderstood. Although there is scientific evidence that some scents -- such as pumpkin and lavender -- can affect mental states, there's little evidence that pheromones, chemical substance that serve as a stimulus to animals of the same species in regard to territory and mating purposes, aid in human attraction.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience created a media and product development buzz with its conclusion that women who smelled the pheromone androstadienone (the eighth ingredient listed on Magnetic body wash labels) reported more positive moods and physiological and sexual arousal.
But that's about it for supportive data. While animals release pheromones, what effect, if any, they have on humans isn't understood.
Yet according to the vague, passively written drivel on the Dial for Men website:
"We're not saying that our new pheromone-enhanced body wash will cause you to be attacked by hordes of sex-crazed females, but if that is your endgame, you should consider it a piece of the equation not to be ignored."
San Diego attorney Ronald Marron, lead counsel in separate but similar cases against Dial Corp., says that two men approached him about filing these suits after feeling insufficiently magnetic after using the soap.
"These guys bought the product because of claims it'd help them be more attractive to women, tried it and it didn't work as advertised," Marron says. "The economic damages refer to the fact that they never would've bought the product and perhaps would've bought another product if not for the false advertising claims."
While it's certainly amusing to imagine that these cases are the result of frustrated men who, after trolling bars and nightclubs armed with what they hope is an irresistibly attractive film from the pheromone-infused soap still clinging to their bodies, wound up disappointed, it's probably not the case (heh).
It's possible that these suits were put into motion by lawyers who found people who agreed to be plaintiffs in the cases, not the other way around.
But who the plaintiffs are seems irrelevant to Marron, who says class action suits such as these are the only deterrent to companies making false claims like this.
"I don't see the FDA pursuing these cases. Do you?" he asks. "In a settlement you take less [from the company] than the money that they made because of their false advertising of the product. That's usually what happens."
This isn't the first time that Dial has been accused of false advertising. A 2010 suit filed in federal court claimed that Dial's boasts that its antibacterial hand wash "kills 99.9 percent of germs" and was recommended by doctors were untrue and misleading.
The main ingredient in this product, Dial Complete, is triclosan, which in some studies was shown to alter the sex hormones of laboratory animals. A Food and Drug Administration ruling on the safety of triclosan is expected this year.
Whatever the outcome of these cases, Axe Body Spray marketing execs will likely be watching closely.