Burt’s Bees generates a consumer buzz

Sarah Gardner Feb 5, 2008
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Burt’s Bees generates a consumer buzz

Sarah Gardner Feb 5, 2008
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Scott Jagow: Today, Burt’s Bees launches a national ad campaign that’s proving abrasive to its skin care rivals. The company is rolling out magazine ads that point out the synthetic ingredients in certain well-known beauty products. Compared, of course, to Burt’s more “natural” ingredients. It’s kind of a bold move, especially when you consider that Burt’s Bee’s is now owned by Clorox. Sarah Gardner reports from our Sustainability Desk.


Sarah Gardner: One ad asks, “Have you read your body lotion label lately?” It then compares Burt’s “milk and honey” ingredients to a common cosmetic preservative that can release formaldehyde. Some critics find it ironic Burt’s Bees is bashing chemicals now that its new owner makes bleach.

But Stacy Malkan, at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, says she thinks the provocative ads are a smart move.

Stacy Malkan: Because there’s growing consumer demand for safer and non-toxic products, and companies that are making safer products need to find a way to let consumers know that.

The Personal Care Products Council doesn’t think so. The trade group’s John Bailey
says the ads mislead consumers into thinking natural ingredients are inherently safer.

John Bailey: This is not supported by the science and the record in the marketplace for these products.

As for a bleach company like Clorox owning an earthy company like Burt’s Bees? Clorox just partnered recently with the Sierra Club to launch a new line of “natural” household cleaners.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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