NAD Recommends Unilever Discontinue Certain Claims for ‘Degree MotionSense’, ’Clinical Protection’ Products Following P&G Challenge

New York, NY – April 2,  2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Unilever United States, Inc. discontinue certain comparative performance claims for the company’s Degree MotionSense and Degree Clinical Protection antiperspirants. The claims at issue were made in broadcast advertising and challenged by The Procter & Gamble Company, the maker of Old Spice and Secret antiperspirants.

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

As a preliminary matter, the advertiser affirmed that the challenged Degree Women’s MotionSense commercials were permanently discontinued before its receipt of the challenge and noted that the Degree Men’s MotionSense commercials had been updated. The advertiser asked that NAD administratively close its inquiry into the discontinued versions of the commercial.

NAD retained jurisdiction, however, noting that while certain commercials were permanently discontinued, the challenged claims were not.

Although there were several versions of the Degree Men’s and Women’s MotionSense commercials, they followed a similar format and began with men and women engaged in vigorous physical activity.

The commercials featured claims that included:

  • “[T]he only antiperspirant that releases extra protection when you move.  It keeps you fresher, even as Old Spice deodorant fades.”
  • “[T]he only antiperspirant that releases extra protection when you move. It keeps you fresher, even as Secret fades.”
  • “[P]rotection improved, so you can do more.”
  • “Superior Odor protection versus Secret Clinical.”
  • “Degree, clinical protection improved.”

In its review of claims made in national advertising, a key issue for NAD is whether the advertiser’s evidence is a good fit for the claims. In this case, NAD noted, the advertising depicted men and women engaged in vigorous physical activity, but none of testing submitted in support of the challenged claims assessed the performance capabilities of the products following such exercise. NAD determined that the failure of the testing to correlate to the conditions depicted in the advertising was a significant flaw.

NAD further determined that general brand references to Degree, Degree MotionSense, Old Spice and Secret, and the references to Degree MotionSense providing “extra protection,” “keeping you fresher” and the tagline “protection improved” reasonably conveyed the message that the entire line of Degree Men’s and Degree Women’s MotionSense antiperspirants provided superior odor and wetness protection when compared to the entire line of Old Spice and Secret products, a message that was not supported by the evidence in the record.

Even if the challenged advertising did not convey a line claim, NAD determined that the intended basis of comparison – that the Degree MotionSense variants in the commercials provide longer lasting fragrance than the identified Old Spice and Secret variants – was not clear.

Further, NAD also took issue with the advertiser’s use of truncated graphs to represent the relative performance of Degree MotionSense versus Old Spice and Secret variants because they overstated the performance differences of the products. NAD also questioned the reliability of the advertiser’s studies submitted in support of the challenged superior performance claims.  NAD recommended that the challenged commercials be discontinued or modified to remove the comparative performance claims and accompanying graphs.  However, NAD noted that nothing in its decision limits the advertiser from touting the higher fragrance content in Degree MotionSense antiperspirants versus competing antiperspirants and deodorants as well as its MotionSense technology which releases extra fragrance upon movement.

In considering the claims made for Degree Clinical Shower Clean, NAD found that challenged advertising conveyed a message of superior odor protection against the entire line of Secret Clinical antiperspirants at five hours post-use even when engaged in vigorous physical activity. The Secret Clinical Protection variant was not identified in the commercial and the commercial featured a truncated graph which overstated the performance differences of the product.  However, even if a line claim was not communicated, NAD determined that the testing on the product was not conducted on subjects who had engaged in vigorous physical activity. NAD found the claims at issue in the commercial weren’t supported by the evidence in the record and recommended the advertiser discontinue the challenged claims.

Unilever, in its advertiser’s statement, said the while it disagreed with certain of NAD’s conclusions, the company “respects the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”