NAD Recommends SCA Personal Care Discontinue ‘Zero Leaks’ Claims for TENA Overnight Adult Underwear Following Challenge by Kimberly-Clark

New York, NY – Jan. 3,  2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that SCA Personal Care, Inc., discontinue claims that consumers will experience “zero leaks” when wearing the company’s TENA Overnight adult incontinence underwear. The claims were challenged by Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the maker of competing incontinence products.
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 challenged claims included:

  • “60% More Coverage than Depend Night Defense* and Zero Leaks in Testing**” **Laboratory test performed using Medi-Cal method [with synthetic urine]
  • “Enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep and wake feeling fresh and dry! Experience ZERO LEAKS* with TENA Overnight Underwear, plus triple protection against leak, odor and moisture.” *Laboratory test performed using Medi-Cal method [with synthetic urine]
  • “ZERO LEAKS* with TENA Overnight Underwear”
  • *Laboratory test performed using Medi-Cal method [with synthetic urine]
  • “9 out of 10 women recommend TENA*” *Based on bladder leakage product reviews for Overnight, Ultimate, and Heavy Long Pads from TENA.us – January 4, 2017

The advertiser explained that the National Association for Continence (NAFC) launched an initiative in 2010 to address the demand for and healthcare concerns arising from the quality and performance of adult incontinence products by Medicaid recipients. To address the issues, the NAFC formed a council that included state level administrators and manufacturing representative. In addition to focusing on reimbursement cost, the Council’s objectives included optimizing the value in absorbent product purchases and improving the quality of care for program participants and avoiding health associated with the use of inferior products.

The advertiser explained that it commissioned a third party company, UL, to conduct leakage testing on TENA Overnight Underwear, based on the NAFC standard implemented in California and Minnesota.

NAD noted in its decision that the Medi-Cal test identified in the advertiser’s disclosure was designed to ensure that certain quality standards are met for disposable absorbent products, with the overall goal of reducing the cost of incontinence supplies funded by Medicaid. While the test was not designed for the purpose of advertising claim substantiation, NAD did not consider that a fatal flaw and reviewed the testing to determine whether it provided a good fit for the advertiser’s “zero leaks” claim.

The Medi-Cal test, NAD noted, involved the application of a fixed amount of synthetic urine to the center of the product. NAD was concerned that the methodology did not account for a variety of body positions or body types, factors that NAD did consider to be fatal flaws.

NAD was concerned that because the testing did not account for these factors, the testing did not adequately represent how the products would perform under real-world conditions and whether consumers could reasonably expect a “zero leaks” performance from the product. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the use of its “zero leaks” claim.

The advertiser’s “60% More Coverage than Depend Night Defense” claim appears in online advertising and is immediately followed in the same sentence by the claim “No Leaks in Testing.”

NAD determined that reasonable consumers could take away from these closely linked claims a message of comparative superiority — that TENA Overnight offers greater coverage than the competition and unlike Depend Night Defense, provides a zero leaks performance. The advertiser offered no comparative testing to support these takeaways and NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the use of the “60% More Coverage than Depend Night Defense” claim.

The claim “9 in 10 Women Recommend TENA*” includes the following disclosure: “*Based on bladder leakage product reviews for Overnight, Ultimate and Heavy Long Pads from TENA.us – January 4, 2017.”

NAD noted in its decision that the claim states that “women” as a group recommend TENA products, not TENA consumers who visit TENA’s website and leave product reviews, as the disclosure indicates.

NAD has previously highlighted both the importance of online reviews as well as the difficulty of using them to make recommendation claims.  Specifically, NAD has noted that it is important that such claims reflect the “important indicia of reliability and representativeness.”

Here, NAD found that the universe of TENA’s reviewers was not representative of women as a whole, which is part of the message conveyed by the claim.  NAD has also noted that online reviews must be verifiable and reliable. In the absence of supporting, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its recommendation claims.

SCA Personal Care said in its advertiser’s statement that the company “will comply with NAD’s recommendations and notes that the advertising claims at issue were discontinued prior to the date of the decision.  Although SCA disagrees with the outcome of the case, it values the self-regulatory process and appreciates NAD’s efforts.”

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.