BBB National Programs Archive
Cadbury Challenges Advertising Claims For Wrigley “Eclipse” Gum
New York, NY – April 8, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Wrigley Gum modify or discontinue certain claims for the company’s Eclipse brand gum. Wrigley said it will appeal NAD’s decision to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).
NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined advertising for Eclipse following a challenge by Cadbury Adams USA, a maker of competing chewing gums.
NAD examined claims in print advertising and on product packaging that included:
- “Most other gums just mask bad breath. We kill the germs that cause it. New Eclipse now contains a natural ingredient that kills the germs that cause bad breath.”
- “Now with natural Germ killing*…Incredibly fresh breath. *Now Eclipse contains a natural ingredient, scientifically proven to help kill the germs that cause bad breath.”
- “New Eclipse now contains a natural ingredient that kills the germs that cause bad breath.”
NAD also examined implied claims in television advertising, including:
- New Eclipse gum with MBE kills germs and cures bad breath better than the older formulation of Eclipse gum without MBE.
- New Eclipse gum with MBE has antiseptic qualities, working as an anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis drug.
The claim “New Eclipse now contains a natural ingredient that kills the germs that cause bad breath” is featured standing alone in a print advertisement.
Product packaging features the claim “Now with natural germ killing*” on the front and “New Eclipse contains a natural ingredient scientifically proven to help kill the germs that cause bad breath” on the back.
In both instances, the product improvement claims – now Eclipse contains MBE (magnolia bark extract), which has been shown to kill the germs that cause bad breath – can reasonably be understood as claims that compare the new and old formulations for the product.
The print advertisement states at the top, in very large block letters, “Most other gums just mask bad breath. We kill the germs that cause it,” followed by the claim, in much smaller type, that “New Eclipse now contains a natural ingredient that kills the germs that cause bad breath.”
NAD determined that these claims convey the message that Eclipse with MBE is different from other gums based on its germ killing capabilities which is attributable to the addition of MBE.
The television commercials tout Eclipse with MBE’s germ-killing abilities and explicitly state that Eclipse with MBE provides fresh breath. The voiceover states that “most other” gums mask bad breath whereas new Eclipse has an ingredient that kills the germs that cause it, reinforcing the “advanced fresh breath” message.
In reaching its decision, NAD examined evidence that included a number of studies, many of which commenced or were completed after the start of the challenge. Testing conducted during the course of a challenge is within NAD’s purview of review, although NAD noted that the studies were not completed prior to the dissemination of advertising in accordance with well-accepted and longstanding tenets of advertising law.
NAD determined that, overall, the advertiser’s testing showed some promising results as to MBE’s germ-killing ability. However, NAD noted that methodological flaws, particularly the failure to replicate actual use conditions, prevented the studies from rising to the level of support necessary to substantiate the claims.
NAD recommended that the print advertising and packaging claims be discontinued or modified to indicate that there is emerging evidence as to MBE’s germ killing capability without expressly or by implication communicating that there is credible scientific evidence that the gum has been proven to kill the germs that cause bad breath or provides fresh breath based on any germ-killing capability.
NAD also recommended that the commercials be discontinued because they expressly state “Most other gums just mask bad breath. We kill the germs that cause it” and that Eclipse gum with MBE delivers advanced fresh breath messages that are not supported by the evidence in the record.
Wrigley, in its advertiser’s statement, took issue with NAD’s evaluation of its testing and with NAD’s findings. The company said it would appeal the decision to NARB, which serves as the appellate body of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation.