NAD Recommends Reckitt Benckiser Discontinue Certain Challenged Claims for Dimensions Home Fragrance, Finds Certain Claims Supported

New York, NY – July 10, 2019 – The National Advertising Division recommended that Reckitt Benckiser discontinue certain challenged claims for Dimensions Home Fragrance, following a challenge by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., maker of Glade home fragrances and products. Reckitt Benckiser’s Dimensions Home Fragrance product is a personalized fragrance box containing a diffuser and/or fragrance refill that is shipped directly to a consumer’s home.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBBNP’s self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

The claims challenged by S.C. Johnson included, but were not limited to:

Express claims:

  • “100% natural essential oils.”
  • “Scent is the most impactful sense we have. It has the power to evoke deep emotion, enhance your mood, trigger a far beyond memory and reduce your anxiety.”
  • “DISCOVER OUR AROMATHERAPY COLLECTION Scents crafted for your home wellness, with 100% natural essential oils.”
  • Aromatherapy collection product names: “Sleep Aromatherapy Collection,” “Happiness Aromatherapy Collection,” “Energetic Aromatherapy Collection,” “Relaxation Aromatherapy Collection,” “Romantic Aromatherapy Collection.”
  • Consumer rating of “4.5/5” stars.

Implied claims:

  • Dimensions’ fragrances are 100% essential oils.
  • Dimensions’ aromatherapy collections induce, or help to induce, energy, sleep, relaxation, romance, and happiness.
  • Dimensions’ overall 4.4 out of 5 star product rating is based on independent consumer reviews.

S.C. Johnson also challenged claims appearing in a video about sourcing of the essential oils from Firmenich, one of Dimensions’ partners, which appeared on the advertiser’s website (the “Firmenich” video).  The advertiser informed NAD in writing that it permanently discontinued the Firmenich sustainability video, as well as the express claims that accompanied it.  Additionally, the advertiser represented to NAD that it had permanently discontinued the claim that an individual named “Zach” was the “Founder” of the Dimensions brand, and modified the claim, “In partnership with the world’s top perfumers, and developed with 100% natural essential oils, we deliver a tailored-to-you personal home fragrance box that you will love,” to remove the reference to “world’s top perfumers.”  NAD, relying on the advertiser’s representations that the claims have been permanently discontinued, did not review the claims on their merits.  However, the voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

Reckitt Benckiser represented to NAD that it would modify its advertising so that the “100% natural essential oils” claim did not appear on its own, but rather as part of the longer claims, “crafted with 100% natural essential oils” or “infused with 100% natural essential oils.” However, NAD determined that even with this proposed qualifying language, using the quantified term “100%” before “natural essential oils” reasonably conveys the broad (and unintended) message that the products are not only 100% natural, but also 100% essential oils.  Consequently, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the claims, “infused with 100% natural essential oils” and “crafted with 100% natural essential oils” to avoid conveying the unsupported message that the fragrance in the products is made entirely from essential oils.

With regard to the claim for Reckitt Benckiser’s Aromatherapy Collection that “scent is the most impactful sense we have. It has the power to evoke deep emotion, enhance your mood, trigger a far beyond memory and reduce your anxiety,” the advertiser represented to NAD that it would revise the claim to remove “reduce your anxiety.”  In this context, as modified, NAD determined that it was unlikely that a consumer would take away an objective product benefit message. In contrast, however, NAD determined that a consumer could reasonably understand the claim “scents crafted for your home wellness, with 100% natural essential oils” to mean that the fragrances in the Aromatherapy Collection will provide objective health (i.e. home wellness) benefits, and recommended that the advertiser discontinue this unsupported claim.

Further, NAD determined that the challenged product names, which include the words “Aromatherapy Collection,” are likely to be interpreted as express claims that the products deliver specific benefits based on an association with “aromatherapy” – a meaningful term that relates to an emerging area of science.  Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the product names (“Sleep Aromatherapy Collection,” “Happiness Aromatherapy Collection,” “Energetic Aromatherapy Collection,” “Relaxation Aromatherapy Collection,” “Romantic Aromatherapy Collection”) to avoid conveying the unsupported message that the fragrances will provide objective benefits with respect to “Sleep,” “Happiness,” “Energ[y],” “Relaxation,” and “Roman[ce].” NAD noted that it is not suggesting an entire product name change, but instead a modification of only the portion of the name that refers to “aromatherapy.”

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “4.4/5” stars or modify its advertising to clearly and conspicuously disclose that it is based on reviews from consumers who had received free or discounted products.  NAD determined that disclosure of this information is necessary to avoid misleading consumers and noted that this determination is fact-specific because here, consumers who had received free or discounted products made up the majority of the reviews upon which the “4.5/5” claim was based.  Therefore, the influence of these reviews on the overall rating is overwhelming.

Finally, NAD concluded that the advertiser had provided a reasonable basis for the claim “crafted by a master perfumer,” which was based on Reckitt Benckiser’s relationship with a fragrance company and its identification of a specific master perfumer with which it collaborated to create the fragrance collections used in the Dimensions line.

In its advertiser’s statement, Reckitt Benckiser stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations regarding advertising for its Dimensions Home Fragrance products.”

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