NAD determined, however, that the advertiser could support a “50% Whiter” claim, but recommended that the basis of comparison for the claim – the advertiser’s own “Xtra” liquid laundry detergent – be made more clear to consumers.
The claims at issue were challenged by The Sun Products Corporation.
NAD, an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, examined express claims that included:
· “50% WHITER*,” “50% FRESHER*” “*Versus the leading value brand on a wash load basis per load.”
· “Double Scoops of BAKING SODA.”
· “ULTRA POWER 4X Concentrated.”
· “SENSITIVE SKIN 4X Concentrated.”
NAD also considered whether the claims implied that Church & Dwight liquid laundry detergents are four times more concentrated than other products on the market.
Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that Church & Dwight provided a reasonable basis for its claim that Ultra Power 4x and Sensitive Skin 4x are effective at getting clothes 50 percent whiter per load as compared to the advertiser’s own Xtra liquid laundry detergent.
However, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the disclosure that accompanies the claim – both on product packaging and in broadcast advertising – to assure that the basis of comparison is clear to consumers.
NAD noted in its decision that the parties disputed what message Church & Dwight’s “50% Fresher” claims conveyed to consumers. The challenger contended that consumers will reasonably take away the message that clothes washed with Ultra Power 4x and Sensitive Skin 4x will be 50% “more fragrant” than clothes washed with Xtra.
Church & Dwight contended that “50% Fresher” accurately conveyed its intended message, that clothes washed with either product are “fresher” because they are cleaner and whiter than clothes washed with Xtra.
NAD, however, found that when the phrase “50% Fresher” was considered within the context of the Ultra Power 4x packaging, reasonable consumers could take away a message regarding the absence of odor – particularly because the claim appeared in close proximity to the claim “Double scoops of Baking Soda” – a substance widely known to target unwanted odors.
Further, NAD noted, given the emphasis on the baking soda ingredient in the commercial, consumers could reasonably take away a message regarding the odor reducing or neutralizing capabilities of the product. Because there was no evidence in the record that Church & Dwight’s 4x concentrated products reduce odor 50% more than Xtra, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its “50% Fresher” claim.
NAD next considered whether the challenged advertising misled consumers as to the amount of baking soda in the product. Because there was no evidence to contradict Church & Dwight’s representation that the baking soda in Ultra Power 4x and Sensitive Skin 4x was present in sufficient quantity to aid in the cleaning performance of these products, NAD found that consumers were not misled with regard to a material attribute of the performance of the product.
NAD also considered whether the challenged advertising overstated the efficacy of the baking soda product by communicating a “double” performance benefit. NAD found the potential for consumer confusion when the advertiser combined the “double scoops”/”two scoops” of baking soda phrase with the 50% Whiter and 50% Fresher claims. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the packaging to avoid conveying the unsupported message that the inclusion of “two scoops” of baking soda in Ultra 4x and Sensitive Skin 4x would result in a “50% Whiter” performance benefit in comparison to Xtra detergent.
NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its unqualified “4x” concentration claims to avoid conveying the unsupported message that Church & Dwight’s products are four times more concentrated than competing products which are sold at 1.5 oz. dosing and do not feature any concentration claims.
As a general rule, NAD noted, it is reluctant to recommend a product name change in the absence intrinsic evidence of consumer confusion. However, NAD stated, such action is not without precedent.
In this case, NAD concluded that the names “Arm & Hammer Ultra Power 4x Concentrated” and “Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin 4x Concentrated,” reasonably conveyed the unsupported message that these products are “4x” more concentrated than other products on the market when that was not the case.
The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said that it was disappointed with certain of NAD’s findings, including the recommendation that it discontinue the “4x Concentrated” claim, part of the product names Arm & Hammer Ultra Power 4x Concentrated and Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin 4x Concentrated detergents.
“Nevertheless,” the company said, “Church & Dwight remains committed to the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into consideration in developing future advertising.”