FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ads Targeting Youth Contain False Health, Environmental, and Animal Welfare Claims, Complaint Says
Washington D.C., October 18, 2022 – Today, an animal advocacy organization filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about a dairy industry campaign targeting Gen Z online gamers. The campaign, called “Beat the Lag (BTL),” uses popular video gaming platforms, such as Twitch and YouTube, and well-known gaming influencers to target youth aged 10 to 23 with an advertising campaign exalting the benefits of dairy products. “Beat the Lag”, a play on gaming terminology, is used here to contend that consuming dairy products boosts gamers’ energy. The complaint, filed by Animal Outlook, alleges that the campaign makes health, environmental, and animal welfare claims that range from misleading to absolutely false.
“These ads, which are targeted at vulnerable youth, make sweeping, false claims about the dairy industry,” said Piper Hoffman, Senior Director of Legal Advocacy at Animal Outlook. “Documentation of the animal cruelty and environmental degradation the dairy industry causes is overwhelming, and the claimed health benefits of dairy products are deeply disputed. The FTC must fulfill its responsibility to protect consumers of all ages from deceptive advertising by bringing an enforcement action against the dairy industry organizations responsible for these ads. The truth is that gamers, the environment, and the cows will all be better off when people ditch dairy and eat vegan.”
Animal Outlook says that false claims in the ads about the treatment of cows in the dairy industry are especially egregious, given the extreme suffering of cows raised for dairy, which Animal Outlook has documented in its undercover investigations. In one ad, a gamer exclaims, “I’m getting jealous of these dairy cows, they’re treated so well!” Elsewhere, he states that cows are milked “so delicately that the cow basically didn’t even know what was going on,” and that they are “lavishly taken care of” and experience “outstanding cow comfort.”
In reality, says the complaint, dairy producers use a range of painful, standard practices that cause cows inevitable and extreme suffering. Cows are repeatedly impregnated and have their babies taken away at birth so their milk can be sold. Cows are forced to produce literally tons more milk than they would naturally, often causing painful inflammation called mastitis. Their flesh is burned away to remove their horns, often with no pain relief. Crowding and neglect lead to injury and disease; many cows end up as “downed” animals who cannot walk or even stand up. Animal Outlook has documented workers dragging downed cows using a tractor and metal clamps on the cows’ hips, and cows left for days without medication, shelter, veterinary care, or access to food or water, until they died. Once their milk production drops, at a fraction of their normal lifespan, cows in the dairy industry are slaughtered.
The Beat the Lag campaign also suggests that dairy products provide health benefits that can reenergize gamers. In one ad, PrestonPlayz, a gamer with over 13 million YouTube subscribers. tells viewers that “a wedge of cheddar cheese…is like a strength potion.” But the FTC complaint notes that the health benefits of many dairy products are deeply disputed, and that some, such as full-fat dairy products, are widely recognized as unhealthy.
In other ads, gamers extol the supposed sustainability of dairy farms (“Dairy farms are recycling water…and only using as much as they need”). But, as the complaint points out, dairy production is known to use vast amounts of water and emit significant amounts of greenhouse gasses.
Animal Outlook has asked the FTC to enforce consumer protection laws by ordering the removal of all false and misleading Beat the Lag claims, prohibiting new false or misleading statements, compelling the campaign’s producers to publish corrections of their previous claims, and working with the USDA to prevent it from approving future advertisements containing false or deceptive claims.
The ads were produced by Dairy Management, Inc., a USDA-supported industry association funded by a government-supported checkoff program, which collects fees from dairy producers which are meant to fund marketing that boosts dairy.
ABOUT ANIMAL OUTLOOK
Animal Outlook is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) animal advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. Animal Outlook’s mission is to aid animals by strategically challenging the status quo of animal agribusiness through undercover investigations, legal advocacy, corporate and food system reform, and empowering everyone to choose vegan. https://animaloutlook.org/
Jim Amos, Scout 22