NAD Recommends Unilever Modify Certain Claims For “Dove Therapy” Hair Conditioners

New York, New York – Sept.  14,  2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has determined that Unilever United States, Inc., had a reasonable basis for certain advertising claims made for its Dove Therapy hair conditioners, but recommended the advertiser modify implied claims regarding the product’s ability to “restore shine.”

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, reviewed express and implied superiority claims made by Unilever, following a challenge by The Procter & Gamble Company, maker of Pantene conditioner.  Claims at issue in the NAD inquiry included:

Television Commercial:

  • Voiceover: “Research proves Dove with repairing serum targets damage precisely. And even repairs better than the leading Pantene conditioner.”
  • On-Screen Text: “Repairs better than the leading Pantene® conditioner*”, with an associated super stating: “*Based on repeated use”
  • The implied claim that Dove Therapy conditioners restore hair’s shine better than the leading Pantene conditioner.

NAD examined the evidence in the record, including the results of “wet combing” tests performed by both the advertiser and the challenger. NAD noted that both parties agreed that the hair care industry has relied upon wet combing tests as a critical test of the performance of a hair conditioner. The parties did not agree on whether the products should be tested on hair with physical damage or chemical damage, whether a dry comb test was necessary and whether a breakage test produced relevant data.

NAD determined that the advertiser’s wet combing analysis, which tested the conditioners’ ability to repair and reduce damage when hair is the most susceptible to damage, combined with a hair breakage test, which demonstrated improved strength under consumer-relevant conditions, was sufficient to meet the reasonable basis standard of proof required in an NAD proceeding for certain claims.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the advertisement conveyed an implied superior repair message with regard to shine, – a claim that was not supported by the evidence in the record.  To avoid the potential for consumer confusion, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its advertising to avoid conveying the implied message that Dove Therapy conditioners provide superior repair for shine over the leading Pantene conditioners.

In addition, NAD concluded that the advertiser’s superior repair claim (which expressly states that Dove Therapy hair conditioner provides superior repair in terms of smoothness, damage at the tips, and strength) is overly broad.  NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the commercial so that it expressly (in language and visuals) limits these superior repair claims to the repair of smoothness, damage at the tips, and strength for severely physically and chemically damaged hair. 

Unilever, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company disagrees that the advertising “was overly broad in its description of the type of damage for which the Dove Therapy products are superior, or that the advertisement conveyed a superior ‘shine’ repair claim.  However, we will take the NAD’s recommendations into consideration in preparing future advertising with this product.  Unilever supports and appreciates the opportunity to participate in the self-regulatory process.”