NAD Recommends General Mills Modify or Discontinue Certain Broadcast Spots for ‘Progresso’ Soups, Following Challenge by Campbell

New York, NY – April 5, 2016 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that General Mills, Inc., modify or discontinue certain broadcast advertisements for the company’s Progresso-brand soups, finding that the advertising conveyed the unsupported message that most or all of the ingredients are sourced from farms in rural, southern New Jersey. NAD determined, however, that the advertising did not convey a “small company” message and found that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for the claim “Vineland, NJ: Home of Progresso.”

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

Following a challenge by Campbell Soup Company, NAD requested that General Mills provide substantiation for claims that included:

  • “Vineland, NJ: Home of Progresso”
  • “Vineland, NJ … where Progresso Light soups are made”
  • “This [Vineland] is where the great produce that goes into the soups is sourced”

NAD also considered whether the challenged advertising implied that Progresso is a small company, based in rural, southern New Jersey, or suggested that all or most Progresso ingredients are provided by farms in Vineland, N.J.

The challenged advertising included four television commercials – “Chicken,” “Dirt,” “Farm,” and “Light.”

Each of the television spots at issue opens with the text “VINELAND, NJ” displayed on the screen amidst a background of growing crops, and underneath this is written, “HOME OF PROGRESSO.”

In this case, the challenger argued that the broadcast spots conveyed a “local sourcing” message. For example, in the “Chicken” spot the voiceover states, “… in Vineland, it’s all about flavor,” while a tractor is shown driving through a farm. The challenger contended that the next shot – fresh vegetable and chicken ingredients on a cutting board – created the misleading impression that all or most of Progresso soup ingredients are sourced locally in Vineland. The advertiser disagreed.

Following its review of the advertising and the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the “Farm,” “Chicken,” and “Dirt” commercials reasonably conveyed the unsupported message that most or all of Progresso’s ingredients are sourced in Vineland. NAD recommended that General Mills modify or discontinue the spot.

NAD further determined that the advertiser demonstrated that Progresso was established in Vineland more than 70 years ago and that the majority of Progresso’s soups are made there. NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis to support the claim that Vineland is the “home” of Progresso.

However, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the unqualified claim “Vineland, NJ … where Progresso Light soups are made,” as it was undisputed that not all (or almost all) of Progresso Light soups are made in Vineland. However, NAD noted that the advertiser was not precluded from claiming that Vineland is where particular varieties of soups or a majority of Progresso Light soups are made if it is truthful and accurate.

General Mills, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “is pleased with NAD’s decision and agrees to comply with its recommendations.”

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.