The National Advertising Division (NAD) has recommended that Procter & Gamble Company discontinue certain claims made for the company’s Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System, following a challenge by L’Oréal USA, Inc.
The advertiser’s campaign included several versions of its claim that the Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System is “just as effective as” or “cleanses as effectively as” the Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System. Although the advertiser stated that many of the challenged versions of the claim were no longer in circulation, P&G noted that it stands by it’s “as effective as” claims and argued that they were fully substantiated.
Claims at issue included:
• “Olay Pro-X. Have you heard the beauty buzz? . . . Advanced Cleansing System just as effective as a $200 Clarisonic System.”
• “[Olay Pro-X is] an instrument that cleanses as effectively as what’s sold by skin professionals for a whole lot less.”
• “Think you need to go to a department store counter for a professional cleansing device? Join the counter revolution, switch to Olay Pro-X. Get cleansing results as effective as a $200 system.”
• “Technical tests show that Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced System Cleansing System cleanses and exfoliates as effectively as a professional cleansing system costing nearly $200 used by professionals.”
• “[D]esigned by a team of dermatologists with Olay, the Advanced System Cleansing System is as effective as other systems sold by skin professionals for nearly $200.* Professionally and clinically designed to cleanse 6 times better**, the Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System also sets your skin up for supersonic anti-aging moisturization.†”
• “Proven results for new advanced cleansing system.”
As a preliminary matter, NAD observed that much of the disagreement between the parties centered on the question of whether the their respective products are “cleansing systems” – including a brush and facial cleanser—or whether they are cleansing brushes that come with a sample facial cleanser in the package.
The advertiser argued that the products are “systems” and based its parity claims on testing that used each brush with its associated cleanser. The challenger countered that the products are “brushes” that could be used with most cleansers, and that testing the brushes with different cleansers amounts to an apple-to-oranges comparison. Neither party provided consumer-perception evidence as to the reasonable messages conveyed by the challenged advertisements.
Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD concluded that the advertising claims at issue conveyed the unsupported message that the parties’ respective brushes performed equally effectively.
NAD recommended that the advertiser’s claims that its Olay Pro-X cleanses as effectively as a $200 Clarisonic System—and similar claims—be discontinued. Further, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its more general “as effective as” claims, as well as its claim that its Olay Pro-X brush is “6X better than basic cleansing.” However, NAD concluded that the advertiser’s claim that its product “sets your skin up for supersonic anti-aging moisturization” constituted mere puffery.
P&G, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company believed is “committed to communicating the value and efficacy that the Pro-X Advanced Cleaning System brings to the consumer and will be taking NAD’s comments into account for future advertising.”