Story By: Ana Marjanovic, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
A marketing stunt to sell milk tea in laundry detergent-style bottles has backfired after furious customers demanded its withdrawal.
Parents in China feared that the striking resemblance between the drink and detergent bottles meant that children might swig the wrong one.
To add to the confusion, all the writing on the milk tea bottles was in Thai, making it impossible to read.
The drink – produced by the Nanyeli Thai Food Restaurant in Nanjing, in eastern China’s Jiangsu province – looks exactly like the common laundry liquids and other cleaning products right down to the lid, that can be used to drink the product.
The milk tea was being sold in 500ml bottles in the restaurant chain’s three outlets across the city.
Many users, though, thought the gimmick was amusing including one that read: “I’ve seen this kind of pack for the first time. Very funny.”
But others saw a clear danger for young children who might then try and drink real laundry detergent and as a result, the product has now been pulled.
Another commentator said: “Its design is novel. However, I am afraid some parents don’t tell their kids about the potential danger from this type of packaging similarity. After the kids drink the milk tea once, they may drink dishwashing liquid at home thinking it is also milk tea.”
And a third added: “You can be creative in design, but you should be socially responsible. This kind of packaging would definitely mislead children and could result in serious consequences.”
After the packaging was pulled, local consumer protection officers confirmed they are investigating.
The company said sales had plummeted because of the new bottles.
Only this year an elderly man living in the eastern-central Chinese coastal province of Jiangsu gave his grandson what he thought was orange juice but turned out to be a chemical cleaning agent.
The packaging contained pictures of oranges presumably to show that it had a fresh smell when in fact it was a powerful detergent that almost killed the lad. He only survived after having his stomach pumped.