Date: April 30, 2015
UNILEVER TO PAY OVER $770,000 IN PENALTIES AND COSTS FOR PACKAGING AND ADVERTISING AXE HAIR PRODUCTS IN MISLEADING MANNER
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) has obtained a settlement of over $770,000 in civil penalties and costs in a consumer protection lawsuit against Unilever United States, Inc. (Unilever) for advertising and packaging certain varieties of its Axe hair styling products in a deceptive manner. The final judgment which was signed April 23, 2015, in the Superior Court of California in Orange County by the Honorable Franz E. Miller, includes injunctive terms and orders the defendant to pay over $770,000 in civil penalties and costs of the investigation and prosecution.
Unilever is a large international consumer goods company.
This case came to light in August 2013, when a student interning in the Consumer Unit of the OCDA brought a container of Axe hair styling product into the office and explained that the container appeared to have a false bottom. The Orange County Department of Weights and Measures conducted an investigation and disassembled Axe containers purchased in local stores and found that the container tubs misrepresented the quantity of the hair product they contained because they were fraudulently constructed and also contained substantial empty space.
Unilever has been ordered to pay $750,000 in civil penalties, $24,000 in costs of investigation to OCDA, and about $3,900 in costs of investigation to the Orange County Department of Weights and Measures. Unilever has also agreed to strict injunctive terms barring it from engaging in unfair or deceptive sales and advertising practices in the future.
Unilever is restricted from manufacturing, selling, distributing, or advertising Axe hair styling products packaged in a fraudulent manner. It is permanently enjoined from packaging Axe hair styling products in containers with false bottoms, false sidewalls, false lids and false coverings as well as containers that are constructed or filled in a deceptive, misleading, or fraudulent manner. Unilever is restricted from misrepresenting the size or quantity of its products by using oversized packaging.
Unilever, who has admitted no fault or liability, was required to run a $3 coupon for its Axe hair styling products that has appeared in all major market California newspapers.
Deputy District Attorney Priscilla Cloud of the Consumer Protection Unit prosecuted this case.