In fining the firm €20,000 (HUF 7m) the acting Competition Council ordered Bayer to “terminate all means of communication of the Supradyn Kids multivitamin omega 3 and choline dietary supplement products”.
These advertisements were guilty of using the children’s cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as a magic towel concept and luminous yoyo products, in the ads intended for a younger audience.
The Court order also demanded the removal of pharmacy flyers, specialty newspapers, posters and point-of-sale promotions as well as Bayer Hungária Kft’s website that featured images of the packaged products.
Under Hungarian law, it is forbidden to advertise products aimed at children or to create advertisements that target parents or other adults to buy the product.
Unfair commercial practices
“The acting Competition Council finds that Bayer Hungária Kft has conducted unfair commercial practices against consumers in a television ad promoting the Supradyn Kids multivitamin published between November 14, 2016 and February 26, 2017,” the order stated.
“These commercial practices include an advertisement shown in a November-December 2016 edition of ‘The Women's Magazine's Children's Special Issue!’”
“The advertisement was also shown in on television promoting a towel called Supradyn Kids Multivitamin Magic Towel, shown between September 19th to the 30th 2017.”
In assessing the case, the Competition Council took into account where the ads were seen. The Council pointed out the ad was featured on certain advertising channels that were also viewed by children.
The ads featured dynamic, child-appealing imagery with toys accompanying the products, which the Council said made them particularly attractive to minors.
Whilst the investigation involved the advertising of three multivitamin advertising campaigns, the GVH terminated the investigation for some of the other marketing methods used to promote the products.
In its decision, the GVH said they took into account the fact that Bayer admitted the infringement and that its ads were subject to stricter control as a result of the antitrust proceedings.
Bayer Hungária Kft did not reply to our request for comment in time for the publication of this article.