NAD Recommends Reynolds Modify Certain Advertising Claims for Hefty Bags Following Challenge by Ziploc Maker, S.C. Johnson

Finds Advertiser Can Support “Stronger” Seal Claim in Certain Contexts

New York, NY – July 23,  2012 – The National Advertising Division has recommended Reynolds Consumer  Products, the maker of Hefty Slider storage bags, discontinue the claim that its seal is “2x” stronger than the seal on competing Ziploc bags. However, NAD found that the advertiser could support a claim that its seal is stronger “in demanding circumstances where an especially strong seal is needed.”

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

S.C. Johnson, the maker of Ziploc products, took issue with express claims that included:

•    Hefty Slider bags have a “NEW” sealing mechanism.
•    Hefty Slider bags have a “2X STRONGER SEAL THAN ZIPLOC BAGS.”
•    It “STAYS SEALED EVEN WHEN . . . SHAKEN, DROPPED, STACKED.”
•    The Hefty Slider bags seal is “SECURE . . . FOR MANY USES” such as “JUICY FRUITS & VEGETABLES”; “SAUCES & STEWS”; “TRAVEL ITEMS”; and “BAGS OF ICE.”

NAD also considered whether the advertising conveyed the following implied  messages:

•    Hefty’s improved sealing mechanism provides a real world, consumer relevant benefit for purchasers.
•    Ziploc bags are ineffective for ordinary storage situations.
•    Hefty’s Slider bags, with a two times stronger seal, do a better job than Ziploc bags at preventing the leakage of air, and keeping food fresh.

NAD noted that in developed product categories, “improving products becomes increasingly difficult as competitors close the performance gap between product lines.  Product improvements, even when small, are beneficial to consumers and encourage positive competition in the marketplace.  Thus, NAD encourages advertisers to communicate product improvements to consumers.”

NAD agreed with the advertiser that the fact that the seal on Hefty Slider bags is stronger than Ziploc, in demanding circumstances where an especially strong seal is needed, is relevant consumer information.

The evidence in the record included results of the advertiser’s Shake Test, Drop Test and Stacking Test, in conjunction with the industry-accepted ASTM F88 Test. The results indicated that the Hefty seal demonstrated superior strength to Ziploc bags under limited conditions.

NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for a “stronger seal” claim when the bags are shaken, dropped or stacked, but concluded the evidence did not support a quantified “2X Stronger Seal” claim.

NAD recommended that, in future advertising, the claim be modified to more closely reflect the substantiation for a superior performance, but not a quantified superior performance claim, by discontinuing the use of the “2X” qualifier and simply making a “stronger seal” claim.

NAD noted that the advertiser must also qualify the “stronger seal” claim, either by making the language “stays sealed even when shaken, dropped or stacked” part of the claim itself or through the use of a clear and conspicuous disclaimer placed in close proximity to the performance claim it modifies.

Reynolds, in its advertiser’s statement, said that it believes that the 2X stronger “results of the properly conducted ASTM and industry-recognized test for seal strength fully substantiate a quantified claim.”

However, the company noted, its support for NAD and its “huge contribution to protecting consumers and the integrity of the marketplace and comparative advertising, Reynolds will accept the NAD’s suggestion to slightly modify Reynolds’ future advertising of its proven stronger seal than Ziploc® and how it may benefit consumers.”