Beauty companies, take note: claiming superiority over competitors without substantial supporting evidence may lead to a raised eyebrow by the National Advertising Division (NAD).
This lesson can be attributed to the Procter & Gamble Company, which recently received recommendation from NAD to modify or discontinue claims hinting that its Olay Ultra Moisture Beauty Bar trumps the Dove White Beauty Bar in terms of consumer preference and attributes such as mildness, skin moisturization, lather, fragrance, etc.
Unilever, maker of the Dove beauty bar, challenged Olay’s claims made in print ads, online videos and on social media sites (which included #TeamOlay and #maketheswitch, encouraging consumers to switch from Dove to Olay).
Express claims challenged by Unilever included:
“Even Dove bar users prefer Olay Ultra Moisture bar versus Dove white bar. Make the switch to Olay;"
“More women prefer Olay Ultra Moisture versus the leading white bar;" and
“... Olay Ultra Moisture delivers deep moisturizers to the skin while helping to wash away dry surface cells. It’s specially formulated with a creamy, luxurious lather, for soft smooth skin. Even Dove bar users prefer Olay Ultra Moisture bar vs. Dove white bar. Your sweat sessions have paid off. Now it’s time to raise the beauty bar."
Unilever asserted that these claims implied users preferred the Olay bar over the Dove bar on all attributes. They also implied Olay leaves skin softer, smoother and more moisturized than the Dove bar, and the Dove bar does not provide benefits or is detrimental to the skin, according to the ruling.
After NAD’s examination of the evidence, which included analyzing a consumer-perception study, the division recommended Procter & Gamble discontinue its claim stating, “Even Dove bar users prefer Olay Ultra Moisture bar verses Dove white bar" due to insufficient evidence of actual consumer preference. NAD determined the advertiser should also discontinue its “Raise the Bar" and “Body of Work" print advertisements, as they also convey superior performance that could not be supported by the consumer-perception study. NAD did note, however, that the advertiser discontinued its “Break the Habit" video, which implied using the Dove white bar is a “bad habit." The company also removed similar content from its social media pages.
Procter & Gamble responded to NAD’s conclusion in an advertiser’s statement, saying it will “take NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising."
While superiority claims might not be the way to go, certain claims do tend to catch consumers’ eyes. Some of these include “not tested on animals" and “all natural."