Pepsi-Gundam Promotion Illegal

posted on by Christopher Macdonald
Gundam Figurine Prizes Seen as Encouraging an Unhealthy Gambling Spirit

On October 25th, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) issued a warning to Osaka-based “Pepsi Twist” manufacturer and retailer SUNTORY for possible violations of “truth-in-advertising” laws. SUNTORY is known for including promotional prizes with their drinks.

Pepsi, which is significantly less popular in Japan than Coca-cola, is distributed by Japanese soft-drink company SUNTORY.

In August 2004, SUNTORY announced a promotion involving 32 “Gundam” miniatures, selling “Pepsi Twist” with one miniature of the series in packaging attached to the bottle. The promotion was originally to run for only 2 months, but has been continued since then.

The JFTC ruled that the promotion encourages an unhealthy “gambling spirit” amongst consumers since the miniatures are kept in packaging that is not transparent. Japanese law requires that prizes dependant on luck not be valued at more than 2% of the value of the product they are included with.

According to the JFTC, the promotion includes “rare” miniatures that are difficult to acquire, which means that collecting all of the miniatures would mean purchasing a significant number of products. The JFTC added that there are already collectors selling bottles of Pepsi Twist without the promotional items included on the Internet and elsewhere. With full collections of the figures being auctioned online for around 100,000 yen (US$900 approx.), an average value of 3125 yen (US$27) per figure, they are valued at significantly more than 2% of the cost of a bottle of Pepsi, which sells for less than 500 yen.

In addition to the JFTC, the Japan Soft Drinks Association (JSDA) also warned SUNTORY in September that the promotion may be contravening the law.

SUNTORY changed the packaging to be transparent in early September, before either warning was issued.

Pictures of the bottles and Gundam figures can be seen at SUNTORY's website here.

follow-up of Gundams and Pepsi
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