NAD Examines Advertising For S.C. Johnson ‘Glade Sense & Spray’ Following Challenge By Reckitt Benckiser

New York, New York – August 4, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that S.C. Johnson & Son modify certain advertising for its Glade Sense & Spray Automatic Spray product, but determined that other claims for the product were adequately supported.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined broadcast advertising and product packaging, following a challenge by Reckitt Benckiser, a competing manufacturer of household spray products. 

Claims at issue in the NAD inquiry included: 

  • “Motion Sensor”
  • “Motion Activated Freshness Conserves Refill”
  • “Motion Sensor senses up to 5 feet.”
  • “It’s the first air freshener to use a motion sensor.”
  • “Glade Sense & Spray is motion activated.”
  • “Stop wasting fragrance with motion activated Sense & Spray.”
  • “Glade Sense & Spray is a clever automatic air freshener with MOTION SENSOR technology.”
  • “The built-in motion sensor detects when you walk into the room and releases a burst of long lasting fragrance every 30 minutes for as long as it senses motion.”

The television commercial further stated that Sense & Spray Automatic is the first air freshener to use a motion sensor and that it does not “waste fragrance.” 

NAD noted in its decision that consumers come into contact with motion sensors on a daily basis – particularly in restrooms where toilets, faucets and hand dryers might all be activated by human motion.  At issue in this case, NAD noted, was whether Sense & Spray functions in the manner consumers understand motion sensors to work.

The Sense & Spray Automatic spray device is triggered by light-sensitive photocell that detects the changes in the amount of visible light that hits the sensor. NAD noted that key to its determination are consumer expectations for a device that is labeled as a “motion sensor.”

NAD determined that the product could accurately be described as a motion activated product.  However, NAD expressed concern about the adequacy of the disclosures on the product packaging which advises consumers that the unit may not respond if the room is too dark or too brightly lit.  NAD recommended that the advertiser make such disclosures more prominent.

NAD further recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims that suggest the Airwick Freshmatic product “wastes” fragrance. NAD noted that it was undisputed that in typical use, the Freshmatic releases more fragrance than Sense & Spray.  Freshmatic emits fragrance at continuous timed intervals (9, 18 or 36 minutes) while Sense & Spray emits fragrance only when a person passes in front of it.  However, NAD noted, the fragrance is “wasted” only if people do not want fragrance around the clock. NAD recommended that the reference to “waste” be discontinued, although the advertiser is free to truthfully convey to consumer that its product is an alternative to Freshmatic. Finally, NAD recommended that the advertiser revise the demonstration to avoid the depiction of continuous spraying and make clear in the voice over that Freshmatic sprays at set time intervals throughout the day. 

S.C. Johnson, in its advertiser’s statement, said it while it “feels that its comparative demonstration was fully and completely substantiated and did not mislead consumers as to the valid point of difference between the two products depicted,” the company “respects the self-regulatory process and will take the NAD’s findings into account in the future.”