NARB Recommends Schmidt‘s Deodorant Company Discontinue Certain Claims Initially Challenged by Tom’s of Maine

New York, NY – May 29, 2018 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board has recommended that Schmidt’s Deodorant Company discontinue claims, either directly or through consumer testimonials, that Schmidt’s deodorants (a) absorb or help absorb moisture or wetness and/or (b) provide protection against wetness.

The panel also recommended that Schmidt’s discontinue claims, either directly or through consumer testimonials, that its products are “the only natural deodorant that really works” or “work[s] better than any store bought traditional deodorant.”

The panel noted, however, that its decision doesn’t preclude Schmidt’s from making truthful non-misleading claims – provided it has proper substantiation – with respect to subjective consumer opinions as to the extent that Schmidt’s deodorants help them feel dry.

NARB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The claims at issue in this case were initially challenged before the National Advertising Division by Tom’s of Maine, Inc., a competing maker of personal care products.

NAD found that the challenged claims conveyed an implied message that Schmidt’s deodorants provide the same or similar benefits as antiperspirants. NAD also found that Schmidt’s testing was not sufficiently reliable to support the challenged express wetness protection claims, and also found that some of the challenged testimonials were not puffery when made beside Schmidt’s wetness protection claims. NAD recommended that Schmidt’s discontinue claims (including consumer testimonials) that its products absorb or help absorb wetness/moisture.

Schmidt’s appealed NAD’s recommendations regarding its wetness protection claims.

In support of these claims, Schmidt’s relied on:

  • Articles with respect to the absorption capabilities of ingredients in Schmidt’s deodorants;
  • In vitro testing of Schmidt’s deodorant by an independent laboratory showing a moisture absorption rate between 9.27% and 11.35%;
  • Customer reviews by Schmidt’s deodorant users reporting effective reduction in visible and sensory signs of sweating; and
  • An independently administered 3-day product test of Schmidt’s deodorant line, followed by an online survey, that showed a significant majority of Schmidt’s deodorant users experienced wetness protection benefits.

The panel noted that it did not find the articles submitted by Schmidt’s to be probative. In addition, a majority of the panel found that the advertiser’s in vitro testing was not consumer relevant.  The customer reviews, the panel noted, were unsolicited reviews on websites such as Amazon; the panel agreed with NAD that anecdotal evidence based solely on the perception of individual consumers is not sufficient to support product efficacy claims.

Schmidt’s also relied on an independently administered three-day product test of its natural deodorant line. The online survey asked 209 participants to rate their level of agreement with a number of statements as they related to the participants’ use of the test product.
Schmidt’s provided only aggregated results for the percentage of consumers who responded “Agree” or “Strongly Agree” to questions.

The decision states that a majority of the panel shared NAD’s concerns about the use of the survey – which measured consumers’ subjective reactions – to support objective wetness protection claims and agreed with NAD that the challenged efficacy claims, including “absorbs wetness,” should be supported by objective testing that demonstrates the product works as claimed.

Overall, a majority of the panel found that Schmidt’s substantiation did not provide a reasonable basis in support of its objective claims that Schmidt’s deodorants absorb, or help absorb, wetness and moisture.

Finally, the panel found that certain of the challenged claims were puffery, but that two claims – “People are saying it’s ‘the only natural deodorant that really works!’” and “It, hands down, works better than any store bought traditional deodorant you usually wear” – were objective claims that Schmidt’s deodorants work better than competing deodorants. Consumers would reasonably expect an advertiser to have substantiation for these claims, the decision noted, but Schmidt’s did not provide substantiation with respect to whether its deodorants work better than competing deodorants.

Schmidt’s, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company will “comply with the NARB panel’s recommendations. Schmidt’s Deodorant Company respects and values the self-regulatory process.”

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.