NAD Recommends Campbell Modify, Discontinue Prego Taste-Test Ads Following Challenge by Ragu Maker Unilever

New York, NY – Aug. 1, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Campbell Soup Company modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for its Prego traditional Pasta Sauce following a challenge from Unilever United States, Inc., the maker of the Ragu line of pasta sauces.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

In this case, the broadcast advertising at issue opened with the statement, “In blind taste tests, even Ragu users chooser Prego,” immediately followed by the exclamation, “Prego? But I’ve been buying Ragu for years.” The broadcast advertising concluded with the statement, “Choose Taste. Choose Prego.”

The challenger maintained that the broadcast and similar print advertising at issue communicated to consumers that the taste preference claims were based on testing of both Prego’s and Ragu’s full line of pasta sauces.

The advertiser noted that the parties – leading producers of pasta sauce – each market roughly the same number of sauce varieties. Due to the highly fragmented market, the advertiser opted to compare its leading variety – Prego Traditional – to the challenger’s leading variety – Ragu Old World Style Traditional. The advertiser argued that the challenged advertising includes a simple express claim – even Ragu users prefer the taste of Prego Traditional pasta sauce to Ragu Old World Style Traditional pasta sauce.

The advertiser offered as evidence a consumer perception survey; however, NAD questioned whether certain flaws in the design of the survey rendered it unreliable as a basis for determining how consumer evaluated the challenged advertising.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that the challenged commercials either be discontinued or modified to expressly disclose the objects of the comparison and avoid conveying an unsupported line claim comparison.

NAD further recommended that the challenged print advertisements featuring the “choose taste/taste test” claims be modified to limit the visual to more accurately depict the single variety of sauce tested.

Campbell, in its advertiser’s statement, said that the company’s taste test “demonstrated that even Ragu users prefer the taste of Prego Traditional pasta sauce over Ragu Old World Style Traditional pasta sauce. Campbell is disappointed that the NAD found that some of the advertising at issue may be interpreted as communicating that all varieties of Prego are preferred over all varieties of Ragu. Although all such advertising has been discontinued, Campbell will take NAD’s opinion into account in developing future advertising. Campbell appreciates the opportunity to participate in the NAD’s self-regulatory process.”