Diageo settles US class action over misleading marketing regarding the origin of its Guinness product sold in the United States.
Diageo is a UK-based alcohol industry giant. The company has a well documented track record of unethical business practices.
Diageo customer Kieran O’Hara filed a complaint in 2015, alleging the outer packaging of the product Guinness Extra Stout sold in Canadian stores at the time was misleading consumers to believe it was brewed in Dublin, rather than Canada where it was actually produced at the time.
The class action between lead plaintiff Kieran O’Hara and Diageo started in 2015 and was recently resolved following mediation, according to The Independent reporting.
The complaint alleged Guinness Extra Stout was brewed in New Brunswick, Canada, with the location noted in small print on the side of the bottles.
Mr O’Hara said he bought the product at a “premium price” because he thought it was from Dublin, arguing he and other consumers had been damaged.
Diageo has now settled this long-running law suit. Around $770,000 was set aside to reimburse customers. The rest will go to the lawyers, $1.3m in legal fees and costs. But Diageo avoids admitting liability or wrongdoing.
Lawyer Kevin McCullough, who represented O’Hara and others in the class action, told U.S. media at least 23,000 people submitted claims before the deadline last year, as per The Independent reporting.
Diageo has repeatedly been found the deploy unethical marketing strategies. For instance, in November 2021, Diageo was among the Big Alcohol companies the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) targeted with a “Notice of Penalty Offenses” warning them that using endorsements that deceive customers could result in significant civil penalties.