NAD Recommends Reckitt Benckiser Discontinue 2 TV Spots, Modify Product Packaging, Disclose Incentives; Advertiser to Appeal

New York, NY – Jan. 18, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Reckitt Benckiser LLC discontinue two television commercials, modify or discontinue a free-standing insert and modify product packaging for its Finish brand dishwasher detergent.

Further, NAD has recommended that to the extent RB provides incentives to dishwasher manufacturers for their recommendations or endorsements of its products, it should disclose this connection when it advertises that it is the “#1 World’s Recommended Brand.”

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

RB said it will appeal certain of NAD’s adverse recommendations to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

NAD reviewed claims made by RB following a challenge by The Procter & Gamble Company, maker of Cascade dishwasher detergent products.

NAD examined express claims that included:

  • “Switch & See the Difference”

NAD reviewed claims that reference the enzyme content of Finish and the product’s performance:

  • “Unlike Cascade Gel, Finish has active enzymes.”
  • “Cascade Gel does not contain any enzymes.”
  • “[Finish’s] unique Powerball takes on anything – for an amazing clean.”
  • #1 World’s Recommended Claims
  • “The World’s #1 recommended brand”
  • “#1 World’s Recommended Brand*” (*more dishwasher brands recommend Finish products worldwide than any other brand)
  • “Finish is recommended by more dishwasher brands worldwide than Cascade.”

NAD also considered whether the advertising at issue implied that:

  • All Finish products contain enzymes.
  • Because it “does not contain any enzymes,” Cascade gel (or Cascade brand) cannot “take on anything” and yield an “amazing clean” like Finish.
  • Finish is the “#1 World’s recommended brand” as recommended by consumers based on actual use experiences.
  • Finish is the #1 performing dishwasher detergent brand.
  • The Finish brand outperforms the Cascade brand.

The challenged commercials feature two women at a supermarket, considering dishwasher detergents. The first woman picks up a package of enzyme-containing Cascade Action Pacs. The second woman notes that the manufacturer of her new dishwasher recommends Finish, which also contains enzymes.

A voiceover states that “Finish is recommended by more dishwasher brands worldwide than Cascade” as the “#1 Recommended Brand” seal appears onscreen next to packs of Finish Max in 1 and Finish Quantam Max tablets.   The voiceover continues: “Unlike Cascade Gel, Finish has active cleaning enzymes.  Its unique Powerball takes on anything for an amazing clean.”  At the same time, a prominent super appears onscreen which states “Cascade Gel does not contain any enzymes.”

Following its review, NAD determined that the television commercials failed to clearly identify the objects of comparison: the voiceover mentioned Cascade Gel, which does not contain enzymes, while the first woman shopper is shown picking up Cascade Action Pacs, which do contain enzymes. Further, NAD determined that the commercials conveyed the unsupported message that all Finish brand detergents are superior to all Cascade detergents. NAD recommended the commercials be discontinued.

NAD noted that the “#1 World’s Recommended Brand” standing alone “is an expressly truthful claim,” that in some contexts can convey an unsupported superior cleaning message.

The front panels of various Finish products promote product attributes – helps prevent limescale, cuts through grease, quick dissolving cleaning power – adjacent to the “#1 World’s Recommended Brand” seal.  NAD determined that the packaging reasonably conveyed the unsupported message that Finish is the #1 World’s Recommended Brand based on these particular attributes and recommended the advertiser modify its product packaging.  Similarly, NAD determined that a free-standing insert reasonably conveyed the  message that consumers should switch from Cascade Gel to Finish it is the #1 World’s Recommended Brand and that this brand-wide recommendation is based on Finish’s superior cleaning capability on all (or a broad and representative sampling of) stains because it contains enzymes.

NAD next considered whether the advertiser should disclose whether incentives were provided for the recommendations that form the basis for the claims, “#1 World’s Recommended Brand.”  NAD noted that the record was unclear “as to the basis for the dishwasher manufacturers’ recommendations of Finish—i.e., whether there is some form of compensation in exchange for the Finish recommendations.”

Referring to the FTC’s Endorsements and Testimonials Guides, NAD recommended that to the extent the advertiser provides compensation or other incentives to dishwasher manufacturers for their recommendations or endorsements of its products, it should disclose this connection when making its “#1 World’s Recommended Brand.”

Finally, NAD determined that the “switch and see the difference” claim in the two free-standing inserts – along with shelf signage and floor stickers – that don’t reference superior cleaning does not convey a superior-cleaning message that requires support.

RB, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company would appeal the following:

  • NAD’s recommendation that RB modify its Finish packaging to remove product attributes which appear in close proximity to the #1 World’s Recommended Brand claim to avoid conveying an unsupported message that the recommendation is based on these product attributes
  • NAD’s recommendation that, to the extent that RB provides incentives to dishwasher manufacturers for their recommendations or endorsements of its products, it should disclose this connection when it advertises that it is the “#1 World’s Recommended Brand.”

The company contended that its packaging is already designed to avoid conveying an unsupported message that the “#1 World’s Recommended Claim” is based upon specific product attributes. Further, the company said, it “enters into a variety of agreements with dishwasher manufacturers throughout the world that involve different types of commercial relationships. Therefore, NAD’s recommendation on this point puts RB in a difficult position regarding compliance. Even if RB were to add an additional disclosure regarding ‘incentives’ as the basis of  ‘#1 World’s Recommended Brand’ claim, it would not adequately describe the basis for RB’s  overall ‘#1 World Recommended Brand’ claim.”

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.