NAD Finds Dole Commercial Doesn’t Disparage Competing ‘Fruit Bowl’ Products; Recommends Advertiser Modify or Discontinue Line Claim

New York, NY – Aug. 4, 2015  – The National Advertising Division has determined that a commercial for “Dole Fruit Bowls,” a product of Dole Packaged Foods, LLC, doesn’t disparage competing products. NAD has also recommended that Dole either discontinue the implied claim that all of its “Dole Fruit Bowl” products are packed in 100 percent fruit juice, or modify the claim to clearly identify which products are packed in juice and which are packed in light syrup. Advertising claims made by Dole were challenged by Del Monte Foods, Inc.

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

At issue in this case was a revised television commercial, set in a gym, that featured two women with packaged fruit cups.

In the revised commercial, one woman drained the liquid from the fruit cup and explained that “Mine’s in syrup so I like to drain it.”  The second woman noted that her Dole fruit bowl was packed in “100% fruit juice.”

“So you don’t drain it?” the first woman asked.

“I drink it,” the second woman responded.

The commercial closed with a voiceover that stated: “Dole Fruit Bowls, the only national brand packed in 100% real fruit juice,” accompanied by a super at the bottom of the screen that read “Dole’s entire line of regular Fruit Bowls are packed in 100% fruit juice.  National competitors primarily pack regular fruit cups in syrup.”

In response to NAD’s initial inquiry, Dole noted that it had revised its broadcast advertising to remove earlier references to “goo” and “sugary syrup” – as well as any potentially implied comparative sugar content or comparative viscosity claims regarding the parties’ respective packing medium – before receiving NAD’s request for substantiation.

Del Monte noted that it appreciated the revisions, but argued that the advertiser continued to falsely imply that the packing medium in Del Monte’s fruit cups was not suitable for consumption and that consumers who are concerned about their health should avoid consuming it.

Following its review, NAD determined that the advertisement did not convey a falsely disparaging message but, rather conveyed the truthful message about the differences in the packing medium of certain fruit cups. However, NAD also determined that the commercial conveyed a line claim that was not substantiated.

While the super stated that “Dole’s entire line of regular Fruit Bowls is packed in 100% fruit juice,” neither the commercial nor the super made clear to consumers what Dole’s “regular” Fruit Bowl is.  Dole’s website does not include a “regular” fruit bowl product among its fruit bowl products, NAD noted. Instead, the “100% Juice” products depicted on the website are referred to as Dole’s “standard” Fruit Bowls.

NAD determined that a reasonable consumer was likely to take away the unsupported message that the “100% juice” claim applied to all Dole Fruit Bowl products.  As such, NAD recommended that the advertiser: (1) either discontinue or sufficiently modify its packed in 100% fruit juice claim to more narrowly tailor it to refer solely to a select subset of its Fruit Bowl products that actually contain 100% fruit juice, and (2) take steps to ensure the description of the subset of Dole Fruit Bowls packed in 100% fruit juice is consistent across different media.

Dole took issue with certain of NAD’s findings, but said that “out of respect for the self-regulatory process, Dole accepts the decision, and will take it into account in future advertising for these products.”