Ad Leakage

Procter & Gamble’s new ads for its fake fat, olestra, just don’t hold water. A MoJo Wire annotation.

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You’ve heard of it. You’ve seen the ads. You may have even tried it—you’d probably remember if you had. Olean—or olestra, as the chemical is called—is the controversial fat substitute Procter & Gamble is putting into snack foods to make them taste fatty but not actually be fatty.

Mother Jones reported last year on P&G’s huge PR campaign for olestra, but now P&G has opened a new front: consumer advertising. In an effort to dispel the many studies that show “anal leakage,” vitamin deficiencies, and other nasty side effects from olestra, the bad boys in Cincinnati are running an extensive, multi-million-dollar TV and print ad campaign for Olean. You might recall watching 1998 Winter Olympics when the TV ads premiered: Gentle music plays in the background, a weathered barn matching the authentic-looking farmer who appears in the middle of a soybean field in Iowa (it could be Kevin Costner). An ad for life insurance? Organic veggies? Nope, it’s P&G’s spin control on a synthetic chemical that slides through your body without leaving any calories behind. Sound slippery? P&G says Americans have no problem with it; as a matter of fact, P&G says its only problem is “keeping the product on the shelves.” The MoJo Wire annotates:

Click on the highlighted areas for the real story.

For more about Olean and olestra, visit Procter & Gamble and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

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