NAD Finds Mizkan Can Support Consumer Preference Claim ‘Consumers prefer the taste of Ragú Homestyle Traditional Over Prego Traditional’

New York, NY – Sept. 19,  2017  – The National Advertising Division has determined that Mizkan American, Inc., maker of Ragu pasta sauce, provided a reasonable basis for its claim that “consumers prefer the taste of Ragú Homestyle Traditional OVER Prego Traditional.” The claim was challenged by Campbell Soup Company, the maker of Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce.

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

A key issue in this case was NAD’s analysis of consumer-survey evidence. Both parties conducted a taste test. As NAD noted in its decision, the Mizkan test showed a preference for the Ragu product; the Campbell test found that the products were at parity with respect to taste. The issue for NAD was whether the sample universe (all red pasta sauce users) employed in Mizkan’s taste test was overbroad and, if so, whether the sample universe used in Campbell’s taste test (“traditional” pasta sauce users) was more appropriate.

In an NAD proceeding, the advertiser has the initial burden of presenting a reasonable basis for its claims.  It is only when the advertiser has provided a reasonable basis for its claim that the burden shifts to the challenger to show either that the advertiser’s evidence is fatally flawed or that the challenger possesses stronger, more persuasive evidence reaching a different result.

NAD noted in its decision that the one thing that could definitively be said about “Traditional” pasta sauces – and the tested products in particular – was that they were

tomato-based sauces, which the consumers surveyed by Mizkan customarily used.   Following its review of the advertiser’s evidence, NAD concluded that the evidence provided by the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its claim that, “consumers prefer the taste of Ragú Homestyle Traditional OVER Prego Traditional.

The challenger argued, however that Mizkan’s consumer survey was fatally flawed because it failed to sample the appropriate universe; Mizkan’s study included all “tomato-based” pasta sauce users for its test population when, Campbell said, the survey should have been restricted to users of Traditional pasta sauces.

Following its review of Campbell’s evidence, NAD found that the sample universe in Campbell’s test was overly restrictive and not broad enough to encompass the category of tomato-based pasta sauce “consumers” – the audience to which the specific claim in question is directed.  Consequently, NAD concluded that the challenger’s taste test – and its results – were not stronger or more persuasive than the evidence offered by Mizkan.

NAD concluded that the advertiser’s taste test provided a reasonable basis for its claim that “consumers prefer the taste of Ragú Homestyle Traditional OVER Prego Traditional”

Mizkan America, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “thanks NAD for its careful review of the evidence in this matter.”

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.