NAD Finds Kraft Heinz’s Claim, “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” on Displays is Puffery When Used to Attract Attention to its Own Product But Not in Comparative Setting

New York, NY – Jan. 16, 2019 – The National Advertising Division has determined that Kraft Heinz’ claim “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” on point-of-purchase (“POS) displays for its Heinz Real Mayonnaise is puffery in the context of placement locations in front of its products following a challenge by Unilever United States, Inc., maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. However, NAD cautioned that this determination is limited to its use in attracting consumers’ attention to Kraft Heinz products and does not extend to any placement where it may reasonably be interpreted as making an unsupported comparative claim about the relative quality of other mayonnaise products.

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

Unilever argued that the signage conveyed the unsupported claim that Heinz Real Mayonnaise is superior to Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise. Unilever provided photographic evidence showing an “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” sign placed in the middle of the store shelves where Hellmann’s mayonnaise is displayed, and another version of the “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” sign with an arrow pointing directly at Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Kraft Heinz contended that NAD did not have jurisdiction over this matter because the campaign using the “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” on in-store materials ended prior to the date this challenge was filed. It further argued that its claim, “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” is self-referential and puffery. However, it informed NAD that it instructed its vendors (or anyone responsible for placing the materials in stores) to only place the materials immediately in front of or pointing to its own Kraft Heinz products and that it had already permanently discontinued the “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” claim through POS signage in those instances where it had been placed immediately in front of or pointing to a competitor’s product.

As the advertiser did not represent that it would permanently discontinue the challenged claim in its entirety, NAD retained jurisdiction over the challenged advertising. NAD acknowledged the measures that the advertiser agreed to undertake with respect to the placement of this signage immediately in front of or pointing to Kraft Heinz products and that it had already permanently discontinued the “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” claim through POS signage in those instances where it was placed immediately in front of or pointing to a competitor’s product. The voluntarily discontinued and modified claim will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended its discontinuance or modification and the advertiser agreed to comply

In the context of placement locations in front of Kraft Heinz products, however, NAD determined that “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” is puffery and that consumers are likely to take away the message that Kraft Heinz is simply expressing pride in its product and not that Heinz Real Mayonnaise is superior to any other mayonnaise.  Specifically, NAD noted, “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise,” is vague and general and the word “Upgrade” is also not connected to any message about Heinz Real Mayonnaise’s ingredients, taste, or consumers’ preferences.

NAD cautioned the advertiser that its determination that “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” on POS signage is puffery is limited to its use in attracting consumers’ attention to Kraft Heinz products as they walk by and does not extend to any placement of the signage where it may reasonably be construed as making an unsupported claim about the relative quality of other mayonnaise products.

In its advertiser’s statement Kraft Heinz stated that it intends to comply with NAD’s recommendations and thanked NAD for its careful review and determination that “Upgrade Your Mayonnaise” is puffery in the context of the POS signage placed in front of Kraft Heinz products.

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.