UniLever, Dial Participate In NAD Forum

New York, NY – March 5, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Unilever United States, Inc. modify or discontinue certain claims for Degree Men Absolute Protection.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined broadcast and Internet advertising and product packaging, following a challenge by Dial Corp., the maker of Right Guard Sport, a competing antiperspirant.

Express claims at issue included:

  • “Responds to increases in adrenaline better than Right Guard Sport.”
  • “Releases extra fragrance when it comes in contact with sweat/water.”
  • “Releases extra bursts of fragrance when you need it the most.”
  • Degree Men “won’t let you down.”
  • “The Absolute Protection line by Degree Men.”
  • “Unbeaten in Competitive Dryness Testing.”
  • “Future ready protection.”
  • “Over-engineered”

Implied claims included:

  • Degree Men provides better and longer lasting odor control than Right Guard Sport.
  • Right Guard Sport only provides odor protection for a short time.
  • Right Guard Sport will let you down when it comes to providing odor protection.

The commercials feature a variety of scenarios, from a robot that is impressed by the performance of the product as it is used by men playing a vigorous ball game to a man sleeping in a superheated room. One commercial in features a graph that indicates the protection provided by Degree Men will remain high throughout a 24-hour period with three increases in additional protection as the product responds to “adrenaline,” while the protection provided by Right Guard Sport quickly falls to zero.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD recommended that advertiser remove the graph from its advertising and discontinue the claim “Responds to increases in adrenaline better than Right Guard Sport.”  NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue similar adrenaline claims as they appear on in Internet advertising or on product packaging because the claims convey, in part, the unsupported message that the product responds to increases in the adrenaline hormone though the claim could be made so long as consumers would reasonably interpret the claim (in the context of the advertising) to mean sweating in general.

NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue the claim “releases extra bursts of fragrance when you need it the most,”, although NAD determined that the advertiser can state that the product releases extra bursts of fragrance over time due to its fragrance capsules.  Further, NAD determined that the claim “Releases extra fragrance when it comes in contact with sweat/water” was supported.

NAD noted that the tagline “won’t let you down” is not falsely denigrating to the competing product when it stands alone.  However, the tagline, in the context of the challenged comparative commercials, conveys the false and denigrating message that Right Guard Sport product is ineffective.  

 
NAD further recommended that the claim “unbeaten in competitive dryness testing” be qualified to indicate that it is based solely on “hotroom” testing and that this claim as it is referenced in one of the commercials be discontinued given the basis of comparison (the efficacy of Degree Men versus no deodorant).

NAD recommended that the claim “unbeaten in competitive dryness testing,” as well as the claim that Degree Men protects in “absolutely every scenario” be discontinued. Finally, NAD determined that the studies presented as support for the claim “Proven at the Hottest Temperature on Earth” were too flawed to provide support for the claim even if referenced in a stand-alone context.  Accordingly, NAD recommended that the claim and the commercial be discontinued. 

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said that it respectfully disagrees “that our obviously humorous ads conveyed any comparative effectiveness claim about Right Guard Sport or that reasonable consumers would have interpreted any of the claims in these ads as meaning that our products provide total (meaning 100%) protection against sweating.  However, we will take the NAD’s recommendations into consideration in preparing future labeling and advertising with this product.”