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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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