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AD Rulings Impact Church & Dwight and Dove

February 7, 2014

Advertising in use by Church & Dwight and Unilever’s Dove has been impacted by the National Advertising Division (NAD) and the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), respectively.

NAD recommended that Church & Dwight discontinue certain claims for Arm & Hammer Ultra Power 4x Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent and Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin 4x Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent. 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 were challenged by The Sun Products Corporation.

NAD 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;” and  “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.  

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% 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.  

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 that it is reluctant to recommend a product name change in absence of 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.  

Church & Dwight 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.” 

The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has recommended that Unilever discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s “Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash,” and discontinue the use of barbed wire in imagery of competing products. The Dial Corporation had challenged claims made by Unilever before the National Advertising Division (NAD).  

Challenged claims, which appeared at the product website and Facebook page and on its YouTube channel, included: “Even moisturizing body washes can be harsh. New Dove is different;” “Even if you don’t feel it, most moisturizing body washes can strip your skin;  “Some body washes can be harsh. Only New Dove Body Wash is specially formulated with our gentlest cleansers ever to provide the proven best care;”  “Wow, look at the [competitor] body wash paper. If it can strip this paper, imagine what it can do to your skin.” [Video with side-by-side product test];” “If other body washes can strip this paper, imagine how harsh they can be to your skin.” [Video with side-by-side product test]; “Doesn’t Your Skin Deserve The ‘Proven Best Care’?”  

NAD examined also the implied claim that Dial body washes can inflict serious damage on skin and, at the close of its review, recommended that Unilever discontinue the challenged claims and imagery.

NARB determined that labeling other body washes as “harsh,” in the context of the challenged advertisements, reasonably conveyed a message that some competing body washes are abrasive and/or will cause noticeable damage to the skin. The panel noted that testing conducted by Unilever, which compared the mildness of Dove Deep moisture to a representative sample of competing body washes, showed that Dove Deep Moisture was milder than most body washes but did not indicate that the less mild body washes were “harsh.”   

Some of the challenged advertisements displayed a competing body wash container surrounded by barbed wire. The images, the panel found, overstated the actual differences in mildness between Dove Deep Moisture and competing products and reinforced the message that competing body washes can cause noticeable damage to the skin. The challenged advertising included two videos that appeared to show a side-by-side product test comparing Dove Deep Moisture to several competing body washes. The videos featured an actress who stated that the paper used in the test is “designed to react like real [or your] skin.”   The panel determined that the test paper did not accurately simulate the composition of real skin and did not appropriately simulate actual consumer use of body washes. In addition, the panel found that the reliability of the test results was called into question by the fact that they were inconsistent with some of the other testing submitted by Unilever.  

Regarding moisturization claims, the panel noted that Unilever primarily relied on Leg Controlled Application Technique testing to determine relative moisturization potential. The LCAT test methodology called for two daily wash sessions conducted 3-4 hours apart.  The panel recommended that Unilever discontinue claims that competing body washes are “harsh,” and also recommended that Unilever discontinue use of barbed wire and steel wool images with respect to competing body washes. The panel recommended that Unilever discontinue the challenged videos purporting to show a side-by-side test of Dove Deep Moisture and competing body washes.
Finally, the panel recommended that Unilever discontinue its “proven best care” claims for Dove Deep Moisture.  

Unilever said the company “appreciated the opportunity to present its position to NARB. While Unilever is disappointed in the panel’s decision, it respects the self-regulatory process and will take the panel’s decision into consideration in future advertising.” 
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