NAD Recommends Reckitt Benckiser Discontinue or Modify Television Commercial for Its Air Wick Scented Oil Refills Making Comparative Longevity Claims

New York, NY – June 24, 2019 – Following a challenge by The Proctor & Gamble Company, the National Advertising Division recommended that Reckitt Benckiser discontinue or modify a television commercial for its Air Wick scented oil air freshener product, having found that it reasonably conveys the unsupported message that an Air Wick scented oil refill lasts longer than a Febreze Plug refill.

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 challenged commercial compares the scented refills for each product, stating that “With Air Wick scented oils, you get fragrance for twice as long as Febreze Plug. So, it’s twice the value.” It shows a calendar depicting the passing of 45 days as representing “Febreze Plug” and a calendar depicting the passing of 90 days as representing “Air Wick.” A single use refill from each party lasts for 45 days when the dispersion device is set to a low setting. The advertiser’s Air Wick scented oil refill twin pack, which contains two single use refills, is priced similarly to Procter & Gamble’s Febreze Plug “dual-chamber” single use refill.

Procter & Gamble asserted that the commercial conflates two distinct product attributes – price/value and longevity – thus communicating a variety of implied claims that are not supported, including that a single Air Wick scented oil refill lasts longer than a Febreze Plug single refill.  Reckitt Benckiser countered that the commercial conveys its intended value message that consumers pay the same price for an Air Wick scented oil twin pack, which provides 90 days of fragrance, compared to a Febreze Plug single refill, which provides 45 days of fragrance. 

NAD considered whether the commercial makes sufficiently clear that the 45 day to 90 day comparison is between the advertiser’s pack of two scented oil refills and the challenger’s single “dual-chamber” refill.  NAD determined that here, the advertiser did not inform consumers that the comparison being made was between two materially different but similarly priced products. Without expressly stating that it is an Air Wick twin pack that lasts 90 days, in total, and a Febreze Plug single refill that lasts 45 days, consumers could reasonably understand the 45 days to 90 days comparison to relate to the length of individual single use scented oil refills from both brands.  Further, with respect to the super appearing at the bottom of the screen which stated, “Based upon SRP for Air Wick Twin Pack & Febreze Plug single refill,” NAD concluded that consumers were unlikely to notice, read and understand the disclaimer, such that it did not effectively communicate that the comparison was between those particular products.

Consequently, because the commercial conveys the unsupported message that an Air Wick scented oil refill lasts longer than a Febreze Plug refill, NAD recommended that the commercial be discontinued or modified to expressly state that the basis of the longevity comparison is two Air Wick scented oil refills to a single Febreze Plug refill and that the claimed value benefit is derived from the price similarity of those materially different products.

In its advertiser’s statement, Reckitt Benckiser stated that “as a strong supporter of NAD and the self-regulatory process, RB agrees to comply with NAD’s decision.”