New York, NY – March 17, 2014 – The National Advertising Division has determined that the Kimberly-Clark Corporation can support certain advertising claims for he company’s “Sleek” super-absorbency tampon, but has recommended that the advertiser modify claims to assure that disclosures are readily noticeable and understandable to consumers.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Print and internet advertising claims made by K-C for its “U by Kotex Sleek Tampons” were challenged by The Procter & Gamble Company, the maker of Tampax Tampons.
Claims at issue included:
• “Unbeatable Protection.* Sleek vs. Tampax Pearl” (*super absorbency vs. Tampax Peal, among those with a preference.)
• “Preferred by girls over Tampax Pearl*” (*super absorbency.)
Key to its decision in this case was NAD’s examination of the consumer-use testing provided by the advertiser. K-C noted that it used an independent third party to assist in the design and execution of the study, which included 267 participants nationwide, spread among age ranges.
Participants were provided with the competing products and instructed to use them alternately, but otherwise as they would typically use them in their everyday lives. At the conclusion of the test, participants were e-mailed a survey regarding their preferences and various attributes of the products.
The challenger criticized the advertiser’s at-home test as materially flawed and, as rebuttal, offered the results from its own consumer use testing, which utilized a different protocol.
NAD noted that the advertiser’s study had a number of flaws. Of most concern was the test’s inability to ensure that test participants followed the protocol and recalled their opinions when later answering the questionnaire. However, NAD noted, the evaluation of advertising claims substantiation based on a determination of whether an advertiser has provided a reasonable basis for its claims. Here, NAD found that, despite the study’s flaws, it had adequate protocols in place to prevent bias and capture the participant’s overall preferences as well as whether the women thought that they were better protected by either product or protected equally by the products. Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for the claims at issue.
However, NAD noted that in some iterations of its claim, the necessary disclosure – “super absorbency vs. Tampax Pearl, among those with a preference” –was not presented in a manner that was clear and conspicuous. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its advertising to ensure that disclosures are readily noticeable and understandable by consumers.
K-C, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company will, in future advertising, “make modifications in accordance with NAD’s recommendations.”