Schwan’s, Kraft Participate in NAD Forum

New York, NY – Oct. 16, 2008 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Kraft Foods, Inc. discontinue an unsupported taste-preference claim made in advertising for the company’s Tombstone brand pepperoni pizza.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined advertising that included point-of-sale materials and coupons following a challenge by Schwan’s Consumer Brands North America, Inc., the competing maker of Red Barron pizzas.

Schwan’s challenged the following claim:

  • “TOMBSTONE is Preferred over RED BARON!*”

 The claim was accompanied by the disclosure:

  • “*In a recent consumer test comparing TOMBSTONE Pepperoni Pizza and RED BARON Pepperoni Pizza.  RED BARON is a registered trademark of SCHWAN’S Consumers Brands North America, Inc.”

The key issue presented by the case was the message conveyed by the preference claim in the challenged advertising.  The position of the challenger was that the claim, “TOMBSTONE is Preferred over RED BARON!” conveys to consumers that all TOMBSTONE brand pizzas are preferred over the RED BARON brand pizzas.  The advertiser contended that the most prominent feature of its advertising campaign is a picture of TOMBSTONE pepperoni pizza and argued that the combination of the  picture and the disclosure (which states that taste tests were performed on the pepperoni pizza varieties of each brand) makes it clear that the claim is limited to the pepperoni variety of each brand.

Following its review of the evidence, including the results of consumer testing provided by the advertiser, NAD determined that while some consumers may have concluded that the claim at issue compared the pepperoni variety of each brand, consumers could just as reasonably have interpreted the claim as a broad preference claim comparing the brands as a whole.

Further, NAD determined that while the disclosure may have been adequate in terms of size and placement, it contradicted the main message of the advertisement.

NAD determined, as well, that the design of the consumer survey was not sufficiently reliable for measuring consumer taste preference between the two products and found that the advertiser’s testing was insufficient to support the taste-preference claim. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim at issue.

Kraft, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company did not  “intend to communicate a message about its Tombstone pepperoni pizza that is inconsistent with the Company’s adherence to the highest advertising standards.  Nor do we believe that we did so in running the challenged advertising.

“Nevertheless, Kraft will voluntarily discontinue advertising the Tombstone pepperoni pizza preference claim until it has re-substantiated the claim in accordance with the guidelines set out in NAD’s decision.  In addition, any future advertising of this claim will expressly limit the claim to the actual varieties tested,” the company said.