NAD Recommends Bayer CropScience Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims for ‘Bayer Advanced 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns’

New York, NY – Dec. 20, 2016– The National Advertising Division has recommended modifications to challenged product packaging for “Bayer Advanced 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns.” Further, NAD has recommended that broadcast advertising for the product be modified or discontinued to avoid conveying the message that in addition to preventing the growth of new weeds for six months, the product also kills existing weeds and feeds lawns for six months.

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

The advertising at issue was challenged by The Scotts Company, LLC, manufacturer of Scotts TurfBuilder Bonus S Southern Weed and Feed, a competing product.

According to the challenger, the advertiser’s product packaging and television commercial highlighted three features of 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns – that it kills weeds, prevents weeds and feeds grass.  These claims appeared in close proximity to the phrase “up to 6 months,” which was made in significantly larger, red font.  The challenger argued that consumers could reasonably take away the message that 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns kills weeds, prevents weeds and feeds grass for up to six months.  It was the challenger’s position that this was a literally false claim based on the amount of nitrogen in the product which could support, at most, a claim that 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns “greens” a lawn for approximately four to six weeks.

According to the advertiser, 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns contains a residual herbicide that prevents new weed growth, including crabgrass, for up to six months, working immediately upon application to stop weed growth until weeds are dead within weeks.  In addition, the advertiser contended that 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns kills existing weed and feeds, greens and strengthens grass to provide healthy turf.

NAD noted in its decision that it was undisputed that 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns, unlike Bonus S, prevents the regrowth of broadleaf and grassy weeds, as well as crabgrass, for up to six months. However, NAD noted, the product’s “weed killing and lawn feeding capability last for a shorter duration.”

NAD examined express claims that included:

  • “Make one application, instead of buying and applying multiple products throughout the season with 3-in-1 Weed & Feed for Southern Lawns.”

NAD also considered whether the advertising at issue implied that 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns feeds lawns for up to six months and kills weeds for up to six months.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its product packaging by significantly reducing the size of the “up to 6 months” such that it appears only next to the “prevents” claim.

NAD recommended that the television commercial at issue be discontinued or modified to avoid conveying the unsupported message that 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns confers all three listed benefits (kills weeds, prevents new weed growth and feeds lawns) for up to six months.

NAD determined that a depiction of a bag of Bonus S tipping over did not falsely denigrate the product.

Finally, NAD recommended that future claims referencing the need for only “one application” be qualified to avoid implying that 3-in-1 Weed and Feed for Southern Lawns feeds grass or continues to kills weeds for six months.

Bayer CropScience noted in its advertiser’s statement that it no longer owns the product or the business unit that advertised the product.

The company took issue with NAD’s findings. However, the company said, it “supports the self-regulatory process and therefore will take NAD’s recommendations into consideration in its future advertising.”

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.