NAD Finds PLZ’s “World’s Best Glass Cleaner” Claim to be Puffery following SCJ Challenge; PLZ Discontinues ‘Made in the USA’ Claim

New York, NY – July 12, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has determined that the claim “World’s Best Glass Cleaner,” as it is used on the label of PLZ Aeroscience Corporation’s “Sprayway” product, constitutes puffery – a fanciful or exaggerated statement about the product, rather than an objectively provable claim.

NAD also noted that the advertiser has said it will permanently discontinue the claim “Made in the USA.” Both claims were challenged before NAD by S.C. Johnson and Son, Inc.

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

During the course of the proceeding, the advertiser advised NAD in writing that, instead of submitting substantiating evidence, it had elected to permanently discontinue “Made In The USA” claims. NAD, relying on that representation, did not review the claims on their merits.  The claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

Turning its attention to the claim “World’s Best Glass Cleaner,” NAD noted that both parties had commissioned consumer perception surveys.  The surveys were very similar and used the same novel methodology of a test cell and two control cells (one puffery control and one control which is an objectively provable claim) producing widely disparate results.

Declining to accept the results of either study, NAD stepped into the shoes of the consumer used its expertise to evaluate the messages reasonably conveyed by the claim, “World’s Best Glass Cleaner” on product packaging.

Defining puffery, NAD noted, is more art than science.  In deciding whether a commercial message is puffery or makes an objective claim requiring substantiation, NAD evaluates whether the use of a superlative is vague and fanciful with no objective measure of superiority or whether it refers to specific attributes which are likely to suggest that product is comparatively better in some recognizable or measurable way.   If the superlative is used in a way that suggests it is measurably better than its competitor, it is not puffery but a claim requiring substantiation.

The claim “World’s Best Glass Cleaner” appears on the product label, under the picture of an American flag and the claim “Made in the USA since 1947.” The words “World’s Best” appear in significantly smaller font above the words “Glass Cleaner” which are emblazoned on the product packaging.  To the right of this claim is a sketch of a smiling woman in high heels wearing a 1950’s style shirtdress with a frilly apron holding a spray can in her right hand and a piece of cleaning cloth in the other.

NAD concluded that the appearance of “World’s Best” in small font, juxtaposed against the nostalgic image of the woman in an apron and the dramatically larger descriptor “Glass Cleaner” claim rendered “World’s Best” an exaggerated display of the advertiser’s pride in its product – puffery – rather than an objectively provable fact requiring testing against its competitors worldwide as substantiation.

PLZ, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company is “gratified that NAD determined that PLZ’s use of ‘World‘s Best Glass Cleaner’ constitutes puffery.  PLZ thanks NAD for its careful review.”

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.