NAD Finds Reckitt Benckiser’s “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” Claim Supported; Recommends Modification to Disclaimer

New York, NY – June 13, 2019 The National Advertising Division has found that Reckitt Benckiser, Inc.’s “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” claim for its Resolve Carpet Cleaner products is properly supported by unit sales data, following a challenge by BISSELL Homecare, Inc.  However, NAD recommended modification to the disclaimer accompanying the claim to identify the time period for the claim and its scope.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by BBB National Programs, Inc..

NAD noted that “#1” brand sales ranking claims refer to the number of units sold for a product within a particular category in a market, and must be supported by information validating that claim.  Generally speaking, unit sales are a better fit than dollar sales to support a “#1 Brand” claim where the price of products can influence a company’s ranking.

NAD noted that Reckitt Benckiser’s “#1 Brand” claim is a sales superiority claim, one that is widely understood and accepted to mean that the advertised brand – not a specific product – enjoys the highest market share in its category. Here Reckitt Benckiser contended that its “#1” claim is supported by Nielsen data that tracks units of carpet cleaning products sold to consumers.  NAD determined that, considering the “carpet cleaning brand” category in a manner consistent with how product manufacturers define this category (including carpet cleaning hand formulas, machine formulas and machines, but not vacuum cleaners), Reckitt Benckiser provided a reasonable basis for its “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” claim. 

NAD was not persuaded by BISSELL’s argument that Reckitt Benckiser’s definition of “carpet cleaning” (limited to manual carpet cleaning formulas) is narrow and unjustified and that both wet and dry carpet cleaners (vacuum cleaners) are appropriately encompassed in the “carpet cleaning brand” category.  Further, NAD rejected BISSELL’s consumer perception survey, finding that it was not reliable evidence of the message(s) reasonably conveyed by the “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” claim at issue or whether consumers would be misled or confused by such a claim.

This challenge followed a prior proceeding between the same parties and products in which NAD found the evidence insufficient to support BISSELL’s “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” claim but recognized BISSELL’s evidence might support a more qualified “#1” claim with reference to specific products.  NAD explained that the current recommendations are not in conflict with its prior recommendation because consumers can understand Reckitt Benckiser’s “#1” claim here references a brand, not specific products. 

Finally, NAD observed that the disclaimer accompanying Reckitt Benckiser’s “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” claim (“*Based on Nielsen data”) fails to identify the time period for the claim and the scope of the claim – i.e. that it was based on unit sales of its manual and machine formulas, and recommended that the disclaimer be modified to accurately reflect the basis of the claim.

In its advertiser’s statement, Reckitt Benckiser stated that “agrees to comply with NAD’s decision regarding its continued use of the ‘#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand’ claim for its Resolve products.” 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.