NAD Recommends P&G Discontinue Certain Claims for ‘Easy Ups’ Training Pants; Company to Appeal Puffery Finding to National Advertising Review Board

New York, NY – Jan. 25, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that The Procter & Gamble Company modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for  “Easy Ups” training pants, including claims that Easy Ups are “the best way to potty-train” and “the easiest way to underwear.”  P&G, arguing that the claim “easiest way to underwear” is puffery, said it will appeal NAD’s finding with respect to that claim to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

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

The claims at issue in this case were challenged by Kimberly-Clark Global Sales LLC, the maker of Huggies Pull-Up training pants.

  • “Doesn’t leak like ordinary training pants* (*vs. leading value brand, based on size 2T-3T)”
  • Easy Ups are “the best way to potty-train.”
  • Easy Ups are “the easiest way to underwear.”

In addition to these express claims, NAD considered whether the advertising at issue implied that:

  • Easy Ups do not leak, unlike all other “ordinary” training pants, including Huggies Pull-Ups, which do leak
  • Potty training is easier, and children will transition to underwear faster, with Easy Ups compared to using Pull-Ups or other methods.

During the course of NAD’s proceeding, the advertiser argued that the claims “the best way to potty-train” and “the easiest way to underwear,” were puffery. The challenger contended that the claims were not only objectively verifiable but that they conveyed the unsupported message that the use of Easy Ups would make potty training easier and help children transition to underwear faster.
NAD noted in its decision that defining puffery is more art than science.   A statement is considered puffery when it is overly vague or highly subjective and not capable of measurement.   NAD has observed, however, that the line between puffery and an objectively provable claim is not always clear and that certain statements, although vague, may still be objectively provable.
In determining whether a claim qualifies as puffery, NAD examines whether it is likely to be understood as an expression of the advertiser’s opinion or a factual claim for which consumers would expect an advertiser to have substantiation.

“Faster and/or easier potty training is not only appealing, but it is an objectively provable claim – and the advertiser did not dispute that such a claim would require a longitudinal consumer use test with a sufficiently large sample size of toilet-training children,” NAD noted. “The claim is no less objectively provable because of the difficulty in conducting such a study.  The advertiser has failed to submit any evidence to support the reasonable take away that potty training is easier, or that children will transition to regular underwear faster, with Easy Ups compared to using Pull-Ups or other brands.”

In the absence of any supporting evidence, NAD recommended that the claims “The Best Way to Potty-Train” and “The Easiest Way To Underwear” be discontinued and that the advertiser modify its advertising to avoid conveying the unsupported message that potty training is easier, and children will transition to underwear faster, with Easy Ups compared to using Pull-Ups or other brands.

Following its review of the advertising at issue and the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the reference to “ordinary training pants” in the challenged claim “Doesn’t leak like ordinary training pants” to specify that it is referring to value brands.  P&G said it would do so. NAD further recommended that the claim “Doesn’t Leak” be discontinued or modified to indicate the advertiser’s intended message – that Easy Ups leak less than value brand training pants.  P&G agreed to do so.

P&G, in its advertiser’s statement, said it respectfully disagreed with NAD determination and would appeal NAD’s finding with respect to the claim “Easiest Way To Underwear” to the NARB.

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.