NAD Recommends French’s Discontinue Facebook Commercial, Print Ad Following Challenge by Kraft Heinz

New York, NY – Sept. 28, 2017  – The National Advertising Division has recommended that French’s Food Company discontinue a commercial posted at French’s Facebook page and a print advertisement. Both were challenged by The Kraft Heinz Company.

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

The challenger took issues with express claims that included:

  • “Better mustard; Better ketchup; Tastier meals* *We promise to always look for the best ingredients available to give you a better French’s mustard and a better French’s ketchup.”
  • “America’s #1 mustard has the greatest tasting ketchup.”
  • “From the mouths of kids; ages 6-8 prefer the taste of French’s Ketchup.”

NAD also considered whether the challenged advertising implied that only French’s Ketchup is free from high fructose corn syrup and non-GMO ingredients and whether French’s Ketchup and Mustard taste better than competing products because of the difference in ingredients.

Kraft Heinz argued that French’s Facebook video claims that French’s condiments taste “better,” are generally “better,” and provide “tastier meals,” due to ingredients the advertiser uses or refrains from using, such as high fructose corn syrup.  Such claims, Kraft Heinz argued, are identical in spirit to claims that NAD had earlier recommended the advertiser discontinue.

The challenger also took issue with a print advertisement for French’s Tomato Ketchup that details the ingredients used and claims that these ingredients are “why our ketchup tastes great” and “from the mouths of kids; ages 6-8 prefer the taste of French’s Ketchup” – claims the challenger asserted are unsupported.

The advertiser argued that the Facebook video doesn’t contain express or implied comparative claims like those NAD recommended the company discontinue. Unlike the previous claims reviewed by NAD, French’s  said, the current ingredient claims are made in a non-comparative context.  Further, the company asserted, the challenged “Greatest Tasting Ketchup” and “Tastier Meals” claims are puffery, not taste superiority claims requiring substantiation.

NAD determined that, in context, French’s claim, “America’s #1 mustard has the greatest tasting ketchup” was not puffery but, an inherently objectively provable comparative claim which would require taste testing as support.  The advertiser did not provide supporting taste testing for such a superior taste claim.

NAD, following its review, found that contrary to the challenger’s contention, the inclusion or exclusion of certain ingredients did not form the basis of the taste superiority claim “America’s #1 mustard has the greatest tasting ketchup.”

In a previous case, NAD found that the prominence of the claim “FREE from High Fructose Corn Syrup” in bold red letters, directly above the statement “TASTE THE DIFFERENCE!” could reasonably be interpreted by consumers as an objectively provable claim that linked the absence of high fructose corn syrup to a difference in taste.  In that case, NAD determined that this conveyed the unsupported message that French’s Ketchup tasted better than its competitor due to the absence of high fructose corn syrup.

Here, though, NAD determined that, as presented in the commercial, the listing of the attributes of the advertiser’s ketchup (and mustard) is a sufficiently distinct message from the preceding “greatest tasting” claim and did not convey a misleading message to consumers.

NAD came to a different conclusion with respect to the claims at the end of the video. After highlighting ingredients that are and are not in French’s Ketchup and French’s Mustard, the video concludes with onscreen placard that reads: “Better mustard; Better ketchup; Tastier meals*”

NAD has held that when claiming a product is “better,” this begs the question, “better than what?”  The challenged video does not reference any improvements or changes to French’s products to support the notion that the advertiser is comparing its products to any prior versions.

NAD concluded that the message reasonably conveyed is that the advertiser’s products are “better” than other leading ketchups and mustards on the market due to the inclusion or exclusion of certain ingredients and that use of its ketchup and mustard as compared to competitors’ products results in tastier meals – claims unsupported by the evidence in the record.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that the

Advertiser discontinue its Facebook commercial and avoid, in future advertisements, the implication that:

  • Its ketchup tastes better than competing ketchup absent reliable taste tests to support such a claim
  • That French’s has better ketchup and mustard as compared to competitors’ products
  • That French’s mustard and ketchup are “better” than competing products because of the inclusion or absence of certain ingredients.

NAD recommended that French’s carefully qualify the statement “*We promise to always look for the best ingredients available to give you a better French’s mustard and a better French’s ketchup,” to make clear it is not comparative.

Finally, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue the challenged print advertisement.

French’s, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “accepts and will comply with NAD’s decision and its recommendations. While French’s continues to believe that it had adequate substantiation for the claims, it respects the self-regulatory process and understands the basis for NAD’s recommendations.”

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.