BBB National Programs Archive

Energizer Challenges Advertising From Duracell

New York, NY – April 16, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Duracell, the maker of Duracell Coppertop batteries, modify or discontinue certain claims for the product.  NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, found that Duracell could support certain claims made in the challenged advertising.

Claims for Coppertop batteries made in print advertising were challenged by Energizer Holdings, Inc., the maker of e2 Lithium Batteries. Among the express claims at issue were as follows:

  • The e2 Lithium battery “doesn’t last longer in most common household devices” than Coppertop battery.
  • The Coppertop battery “lasts just as long in most common household devices” as the e2 Lithium battery.
  • e2 Lithium batteries provide “more power than most of our devices need.”
  • e2 Lithium batteries are “excessive.”
  • e2 Lithium batteries “waste power” and “waste money.”

NAD also examined the following implied claim:

  • e2 Lithium batteries provide little, if any, benefit to consumers.

The print advertising at issue featured a headline that stated: “These are hardly the times to pay for more power than you need” and pictures of the Energizer e2 Lithium and the Duracell Coppertop.  The advertisement included a list of product attributes beneath the pictures and stated “Don’t waste power.  Don’t waste money.” 

As a preliminary matter, NAD noted in its decision that it is uncontested that Duracell outperforms Energizer e2 Lithium batteries in both parties’  testing on clocks, radios and remote controls, all of which are considered “low-drain” devices by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

NAD found that in the context of the advertisement, it is reasonable to assume that claims that reference “most common household devices” refer to the AA battery operated devices that are, at present, most commonly in use in U.S. households.

In support of the claims that reference “common household devices,” the advertiser provided the results of a market research study which showed that more than 60 percent of AA battery-operated devices currently in use in U.S. household qualify as “low-drain” devices.

However, NAD found that the research study was insufficient to support claims that the e2 Lithium battery “doesn’t last longer in most common household devices” than Coppertop battery and that the Coppertop battery “lasts just as long in most common household devices” as the e2 Lithium battery. NAD recommended the claims be discontinued.

NAD noted that the advertiser is free to tout that its battery lasts longer than the e2 Lithium battery in many low-drain devices and to name those devices. 

NAD determined that there was no evidence in the record that e2 Lithium batteries actually “waste” power and found that in medium- and high-drain devices the “extra” power they provide would offer a product performance advantage. NAD recommended that the claim “more power than most of our devices need” be modified to make clear that Energizer has more power than is needed for low-drain devices.  NAD further recommended that the unsupported “waste power” claim be discontinued.

NAD noted that the difference in price points is not negligible – e2 Lithium batteries cost more than twice as much as Coppertop batteries, and determined that the advertiser can draw consumers’ attention to the difference in price points.

Duracell, in its advertiser’s statement, said it was “disappointed” that NAD was not persuaded by the company’s market research data, but was pleased that “NAD has acknowledged that the installed base of devices is the correct metric upon which to base the claims in dispute.”

Duracell went on to note that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations to modify the advertised statements to better reflect the evidence in the record.”