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Progresso and Campbell's use statistics to lie about each other

by Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008 at 10:16 AM

I think Mark Twain said something like there are “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics” meaning you can use statistics to tell lies very well. Corporate giants Campbell & Progresso prove it trying to slander each other

In these two ads run in the Wednesday, October 15 issue of the Arizona Republic it looks like the folks that make Campbell’s Soup and Progresso Soup are using statistics to lie and say that the other brand is laced with MSG and their brand is a healthy MSG free soup.

The first ad was the Progresso ad which was on page A9. On one side of the page the ad says “Campbell’s has over 90 soups made with MSG” and then displays a photo of the 90 Campbell’s soups which are allegedly laced with MSG.

On the other side of the ad it says “Progresso has 26 soups with no MSG†” implying the Progresso soups are healthy MSG free and Campbell’s soups are unhealthy soups laced with MSG.

Of course statistics seem to be used to lie when you look at the MSG† which occurs next to the MSG which refers to Progresso soups and isn’t used next to the MSG which refers to MSG in Campbell’s soups. When you go to the † at the very bottom of the page and in fine print it says

† except that which occurs naturally in yeast extract and vegetable proteins.
I bet the Progresso folks have used a double standard here and are saying that their soups which contain MSG due to yeast extracts and vegetable proteins don’t really have any MSG in them, but Campbell’s soups which also contain the MSG from the same yeast extracts and vegetable proteins have MSG in them.

Then if you look at the Campbell’s soup ad which is on page FD3 they use the same convoluted logic to say their soups don’t contain MSG, but the Progress soups do have MSG.

The top of their ad says “Campbell’s proudly offers 124 soups with NO MSG†” implying most of the Campbell’s soups are healthy soups with out any MSG. Of course on the MSG† that refers to their soups they use the little † like Progresso does that says

† except that which occurs naturally in yeast extract and vegetable proteins.
At the bottom of the ad they paint Progresso soups as all being laced with unhealthy MSG and says “So while two-thirds of Progresso soups contain MSG, the majority of our soups do not” Of course in their reference to the MSG in Progresso soups they leave off the little † when says
† except that which occurs naturally in yeast extract and vegetable proteins.
It seems like the folks at Campbell’s have used the same double standard that the Progresso folks used in their ad. They are saying that their soups which contain MSG due to yeast extracts and vegetable proteins don’t really have any MSG in them, but Progresso’s soups which also contain the MSG from the same yeast extracts and vegetable proteins have MSG in them.

Of course if we compare the two ads side by side Campbell’s says they have 124 healthy soups with no MSG, while Progresso accuses Campbell’s of having 90 unhealthy soups made with MSG.

Progress says they have 26 soups healthy soups made without MSG, while Campbell’s accuses Progress of making two-thirds of its soups with unhealthy MGS.

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