NAD Recommends K-C Discontinue ‘Clean Better’ Claim in Advertising for ‘Huggies Natural Care Wipes’

New York, NY – Aug. 3,  2015  – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Kimberly-Clark Corporation discontinue advertising claims that the company’s Huggies Natural Care Wipes “… clean better.”

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 Procter & Gamble Company, maker of competing Pampers Sensitive Wipes, challenged the following claim, which appeared in television, website and e-mail advertising:

“… clean better*.”

“*Huggies Natural Care wipes vs. Pampers Sensitive Wipes, among those with a preference.”

This case, NAD noted in its decision, is one in a series of disputes between the parties that have focused on the same fundamental question: When is an advertising claim “sensory” and supportable with consumer-perception evidence and when is a claim “performance,” requiring objective testing as support?

In each of the preceding cases, Kimberly-Clark argued that the attributes at the center of its claims were best assessed by consumers who regularly used the advertised products and presented consumer home-use studies and questionnaires as support for each claim. Procter & Gamble argued that the claims were not “sensory” claims and that the claimed attribute superiority was objectively measurable and provable.

In this case, NAD had to first determine whether the claim at issue was sensory or objective in nature. As NAD noted in its decision, a sensory claim is, in essence, a claim about how consumers react to a product. However, when a claim is about the tangible, objective results that a consumer can expect a product to provide, more objective testing is appropriate.

Here, NAD determined that the advertiser’s “clean better” claim was not a sensory claim, that cleaning efficacy is “objectively verifiable,” and, as a result, should be substantiated with objective testing that goes beyond simply asking consumers for their opinions as to which product cleans better.

NAD noted that the cleaning ability of a baby wipe can be objectively measured because its performance can be tied directly to a specific tangible benefit – the removal of mess from a child. NAD also noted that a consumer’s subjective assessment of cleaning efficacy can be influenced by other product attributes that do not directly relate to how well the product actually cleans – how a product looks, smells or feels in the hand, for example. While such factors may influence the overall consumer experience, consumers’ opinions about those attributes do not correlate to how well the product actually removes mess from a child.

The advertiser did not submit objective testing in support of its, “clean better* *Huggies Natural Care wipes vs. Pampers Sensitive Wipes, among those with a preference” claim.

Rather, it relied solely on a consumer home-use study and survey that asked participants, “Which, if either, wipe cleans better overall?” Because the advertiser’s subjective consumer home-use test survey results were not evidence of objective cleaning superiority, NAD determined that the evidence was insufficient to support the advertiser’s “clean better” claim and recommended that the claim be discontinued.

Kimberly-Clark, in its advertiser’s statement, said it “continues to believe that cleaning efficacy is a product attribute that can be appropriately supported with consumer use data. However, in the interest of industry self-regulation, current and future advertising materials will take the NAD’s recommendation into account. The television commercial that included the “cleans better” claim is no longer being used.”