Earlier this week, the Florida Attorney General's Office announced that it launched an investigation into Norwegian Cruise Lines' marketing practices related to the coronavirus health crisis. The AG is investigating whether, in response to consumer concerns about the the coronavirus, the company downplayed the severity of the health crisis in order to sell cruise packages.
The AG said that, according to media reports, a whistleblower leaked emails that show that the cruise line's managers encouraged employees to downplay the risks associated with contracting the coronavirus with false and misleading statements like:
- “the only thing you need to worry about for your cruise is do you have enough sunscreen" and
- "the coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “We are in the thick of a public health crisis like our modern world has never experienced. My Consumer Protection Division is conducting an extensive investigation to get to the bottom of the disturbing allegations against Norwegian Cruise Lines. Let this serve as a warning to anyone seeking to mislead consumers during these challenging times. I will do everything within the power of this office to hold accountable those who would prey on Floridians during this health crisis.”
This case is an important reminder that, during the coronavirus health crisis, the regulators don't just have their eye on the marketers who are selling false cures or who are engaging in price gouging. All advertisers need to ensure that, if they make claims related to the coronavirus, those claims are truthful and backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
"Let this serve as a warning to anyone seeking to mislead consumers during these challenging times" -- Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody