NAD Recommends Stoner Discontinue Challenged Advertising Claims for ‘Invisible Glass’ Cleaner

New York, NY – Oct. 2, 2014 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Stoner, Inc., maker of “Invisible Glass Window, Windshield and Mirror Cleaner,” discontinue advertising claims challenged by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., the maker of Windex products.

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

SC Johnson challenged claims that appeared in internet, online video, social media and third-party promotional materials, including:

  • “Superior Clarity”
  • “Superior Cleaning Power”
  • “Invisible Glass is more powerful than any other glass cleaner on the market.”
  • “Invisible Glass is more powerful for faster cleaning and invisible clarity.”
  • “Invisible Glass has a ClearDry formula that’s more powerful than ‘blue water’ glass cleaners.”
  • “With the blue stuff, you’re just trading one dirt for another.  But with Invisible Glass, you’re getting invisible clarity.  With no dyes, scents, or soaps, Invisible Glass leaves no streaks or hazy residue.”

NAD considered whether the advertising at issue implied that Invisible Glass products clean better, and faster than all other cleaning products on the market, including Windex products,  and removed oily dirt, dust, fingerprints, sap, bugs, droppings, grease, adhesives, smudges, smoke haze, plasticizer film, pollutants and other difficult grime better or faster than other products.

The advertiser in this case relied on the results of comparative testing against Windex products. A key issue before NAD was whether the tests provided a reasonable basis for the comparative superiority claims. Following its review, NAD determined that the advertiser’s test evidence was not a good fit for the claims.

For example, the soil sample used in one test did not contain synthetic sebum—a substance generally used to replicate natural human oil secretions.  Such substances are a common source of soils found on glass surfaces – fingerprints, smudges, etc. The advertisements in question also specifically called out the superiority of Invisible Glass versus Windex on soils that included oily dirt, dust, sap, bugs, droppings, grease, adhesives, plasticizer film and other difficult grime” – none of which were tested.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its unsupported claim that “Invisible Glass is more powerful than any other glass cleaner on the market,” as well as its comparative superior performance claims versus Windex and its claims that Windex leaves behind streaks or hazy residue.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims that:

  • “with the blue stuff, you’re just trading one dirt for another”
  • blue-water cleaners contain “soaps” that leave streaks or hazy residue
  • Invisible Glass products remove specific soils better and more quickly from glass than other cleaning products, including Windex

NAD recommended that the advertiser avoid any falsely disparaging messages that the challenger’s Windex is of poor quality and ineffective at cleaning glass.

NAD also recommended that, given their lack of real-world relevance or reliable support, Stoner discontinue the challenged product demonstrations and testimonials concerning the comparative performance of the parties’ products, as well as the testimonials concerning solely the performance of the challenger’s Windex.

NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes the advertiser from claiming, in a strictly stand-alone context, that its product provides “Superior Clarity” and “Superior Cleaning Power” as a statement of the advertiser’s belief of the “excellence” or “high quality” of its product’s performance.

Stoner, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company is “disappointed that NAD did not accept Stoner’s considerable evidence from independent sources that glass cleaners containing dyes, surfactants, and fragrances are prone to leave streaks and residue. While Stoner disagrees with parts of NAD’s decision, as a supporter of the self-regulatory process, Stoner will take NAD’s recommendations and concerns into account in its future Invisible Glass advertising, and to that end, Stoner will abide by NAD’s recommendations in due course.”