Kimberly-Clark Challenges Claims for Honest Company Diapers, Wipes; NAD Finds Some Claims Substantiated or Puffery, Advertiser Discontinues Certain Claims

New York, NY – Nov. 22, 2016 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that The Honest Company, Inc., discontinue the claim “super absorbent” when describing the company’s baby wipes and has determined that certain advertising claims made by the company were either puffery or supported by the evidence in the record. Meanwhile, The Honest Company said it has discontinued certain claims.

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

Express and implied performance claims made by the advertiser in internet advertising and on product packaging were challenged by Kimberly-Clark Global Sales LLC, a competing manufacturer of diapers and baby wipes.

Kimberly-Clark challenged claims for Honest Company diapers that included:

  • Super absorbent
  • Ultra soft

Kimberly-Clark challenged the following claims made by Honest Company for its baby wipes:

  • Our all-natural and effective hypoallergenic baby wipes are unbeatable!
  • Ultra thick
  • Ultra soft
  • Super absorbent

In response to NAD’s inquiry, the advertiser informed NAD that the following claims and terms were permanently discontinued prior to Kimberly-Clark’s challenge:

  • “[S]uperior absorbency” (with respect to Honest diapers)
  • [E]xceptional absorbency, softness (shown on product packaging for Honest diapers on Amazon.com)
  • “[N]ow even larger, thicker and more absorbent” (with respect to Honest wipes)

Consequently, NAD administratively closed the case as to these claims pursuant to Section 2.2B(1)(d) of the NAD/NARB Procedures.

During the course of NAD’s review, the advertiser said that instead of submitting substantiating evidence it had elected to permanently discontinue:

  • Consumer testimonials referenced by the challenger as implying comparative safety or performance messages versus other brands of diapers or wipes;
  • The use of “safer” and “broader,” in connection with Honest diapers; and
  • The use of the word “unsafe” in the statement “Diapers, bottles, and other baby essentials don’t have to be boring. And they absolutely shouldn’t be unsafe.”

In reliance on the advertiser’s representation, NAD did not review the claims on their merits.  However, the voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

Following its review of the remaining challenged claims, NAD determined that the claim that Honest diapers are “super absorbent” is supported based on evidence in the record which showed that both Honest and Huggies diapers have three basic functional product zones which are common to modern superabsorbent diapers.  NAD also determined that “ultra soft,” in the stand-alone context in which it appears in the challenged advertising, constituted nonactionable puffery.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim that Honest baby wipes are “super absorbent.” There was no evidence in the record indicating that baby wipes can be considered “super absorbent” based on technological advances as is the case for diapers, and the evidence in the record was insufficiently reliable to support the challenged claim.   However, NAD found that the claims “Ultra thick,” “Ultra soft” and “Our all-natural hypoallergenic baby wipes are unbeatable,” constituted nonactionable puffery.

Honest Company said in its advertiser’s statement that it would comply with NAD’s decision. “Although Honest respectfully disagrees with NAD’s determination regarding the claim that Honest baby wipes are ‘super-absorbent,’ Honest has already stopped using that claim, and it will comply with NAD’s recommendation,” the company said.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.