Expressly True But Impliedly False (or Misleading)
Madison Reed's Ad Claims
Madison Reed markets at-home hair color products.
Madison Reed positions its products against competing hair color products that include “harsh ingredients” including ammonia, p-phenylenediamine (PPD), and parabens that can cause hair loss.
Marketing Reed's ad claims:
* It sells "salon quality hair color products that use ingredients that are less 'harsh' on hair health, as well as the health of the user, than traditionally-formulated hair color product".
* Its products were “non-damaging” and contain “no harsh ingredients.”
A consumer who suffered hair loss from Madison Reed's product filed a class action lawsuit in 2023.
Madison Reed filed a motion to dismiss.
Allegations and Arguments
The plaintiff's allegations:
* Madison Reed's marketing left her with the impression that the products were "gentler, safer, and healthier than other hair dye companies she was researching."
* Madison Reed replaced ammonia and other harsh ingredients with replacement ingredients without warning that they may also cause adverse reactions and even hair loss.
Madison Reed's argument:
* Its products did not in fact, contain the enumerated chemicals.
* The plaintiff failed to allege that the claims were “materially misleading.”
Granular Analysis Takeaway
The Court's preliminary finding:
* Even if the product did not contain the enumerated chemicals, the key issue is whether a reasonable consumer would have interpreted the claims in a way that rendered them deceptive.
* A granular analysis was required to determine how reasonable consumers would interpret the claims (net impression).
* “Literal truth alone” was not a defense to the claims.
* An ad claim may be expressly true but impliedly false (or misleading).