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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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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