NAD Finds Reckitt Benckiser Ad for ‘Mucinex Fast-Max Liquid Gels’ Doesn’t Disparage P&G Product, but Recommends Modification to Spot

New York, NY – Feb. 10,  2016 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Reckitt Benckiser, Inc., modify broadcast advertising for the company’s Mucinex Fast-Max Liquid Gels product to more clearly indicate to consumers that the company is comparing its product to other name-brand products.   NAD found, however, that the advertising at issue, challenged by the Procter & Gamble Co., was otherwise substantiated and did not disparage P&G’s DayQuil LiquiCaps.

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

P&G challenged claims that included:

  • “Mucinex has maximum strength and fights mucus.”
  • “This one is max strength and fights mucus. That one doesn’t.”
  • “The only cold and flu liquid gel that is max strength and fights mucus.”

The key issue before NAD was whether the claims as they appeared in the context of the challenged advertising, conveyed Reckitt Benckiser’s intended comparison between Mucinex Fast-Max Liquid Gels and DayQuil LiquiCaps – and not a comparison between its product and all of the other products in the DayQuil line, particularly DayQuil solid caplets.

NAD noted in its decision that the parties did not dispute that Mucinex Liquid Gels contain a mucus-fighting agent, while the DayQuil LiquiCaps do not. Nor did the parties dispute the fact that the challenger offers a product in solid caplet form (DayQuil Severe) that contains the exact same active ingredients (including a mucus-fighting ingredient) in the exact same dosage amounts as Mucinex Liquid Gels.

The parties did disagree about the messages reasonably conveyed by the advertising claims at issue. The challenger argued that consumers could reasonably take away the inaccurate message that DayQuil does not offer a product in solid form that is maximum strength and treats mucus. Further, the challenger argued that the claim was false because there is a store-branded product with a formulation identical to Fast-Max Liquid Gels.

Following its review of the advertising at issue, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the claim that its product is the “only cold and flu liquid gel that is max strength and fights mucus” to expressly state that the comparison is limited to nationally-branded over-the-counter  liquid gel products – for instance, the  only “brand name cold and flu liquid that is max strength and fights mucus.”

NAD determined that the commercial clearly conveys a liquid gel to liquid gel comparison, and as such the claims that “Mucinex has maximum strength and fights mucus” and “This one is max strength and fights mucus. That one doesn’t” were supported.

Finally, NAD determined that the commercial does not convey the implied message that consumers who use DayQuil will not get relief from their cold and flu symptoms.

Reckitt Benckiser, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “agrees to comply with NAD’s decision.”