Tyson Loses Appeal on Ad Campaign

NEW YORK A federal appeals court has ruled that Tyson Foods must comply with an order to remove misleading advertising.

A judge in Richmond, Va., gave Tyson 14 days to remove advertising from 8,500 stores that claim Tyson’s products are safer to eat because the chickens are raised without antibiotics. Havas’ Arnold, Boston, created the work in question.

Tyson had been appealing the ruling of a federal judge in Baltimore on April 22, which has granted a preliminary injunction against Tyson’s marketing that said its poultry products don’t contain antibiotics thought to lead to drug resistance in humans.

The action was initiated by Tyson’s competitors, Sanderson and Perdue, which claimed that Tyson’s ads were misleading because none of the companies use those types of drugs — and that consumers could be led to believe they and other companies are using the drugs. Sanderson said it lost $4 million in sales since last year as a result of the Tyson campaign, while Perdue contended it lost $11 million.

“We’re disappointed the motion for a stay has been denied and are evaluating our legal options,” Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark., said in a statement yesterday. “We continue to believe we have acted responsibly in the way we have labeled and marketed our products and intend to stand our ground.” The company said it has already contacted stores about removing POP advertising.

The campaign launched last June when Tyson, responding to what it called “broad scale consumer demand,” said the chicken it sells in supermarkets would be raised without using antibiotics. A $70 million ad campaign aimed at mothers featured the tag, “Thank you.”

After the April 22 ruling, Tyson said in a statement that the company is not currently running any ads but was planning to resume marketing for the campaign just before the start of the summer grilling season. The decision affects point-of-purchase materials including posters and brochures, which are used in stores where the product is sold.