BBB National Programs Archive

General Mills, Campbell Participate In NAD Forum

New York, NY – April 1,  2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Campbell Soup Company, the maker of Campbell’s “Select Harvest” Soup, modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for the product.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined print and broadcast advertising, as well as product labeling, following a challenge by General Mills Inc., maker of Progresso soups.

Claims challenged included:

  • “Unlike Progresso soups, new Campbell’s Select Harvest soups never contain artificial flavors or MSG” (and variations of this claim).
  • Progresso soups contain substantial amounts of MSG and other chemical-sounding ingredients (that are unwholesome, unhealthy and undesirable).
  • Consumers can taste the MSG and other chemical-sounding ingredients in Progresso soups.
  • Campbell’s Select Harvest soups taste better and more natural than Progresso soups.

NAD concluded that the challenged television commercials did not convey the implied message that the advertiser’s soups were more healthy or wholesome than the challenger’s soups but found that they did convey a superior taste message that was unsupported by the evidence in the record and recommended that the challenged commercials be discontinued. 

NAD further concluded that certain print advertisements could be reasonably interpreted as conveying a superior taste message, as well as the unsupported message that the advertiser’s soups are more “wholesome.”

NAD recommended that such advertising be modified to avoid conveying the unsupported message that the advertiser’s soups are superior tasting or more flavorful than the challenger’s soups and, where applicable, to avoid the implication that the advertiser’s soups are healthier or more wholesome than the challenger’s soups.

NAD also recommended certain advertising be modified to clearly and explicitly limit the comparative claims so as to disclose the specific variety of soup compared in the advertisements. 

NAD further recommended that Campbell, in future advertising, limit the tagline “Real Ingredients. Real Taste.” to a non-comparative context.

Finally, in regard to the advertiser’s  “Lighter Than Light” comparative print ads, NAD recommended that to the extent that the advertiser desires to compare the nutritional content of the parties’ respective soups, it modify the “Lighter Light Soup” ads to provide the calorie and sodium content for both parties’ soups.

Campbell, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “values the detailed analysis that NAD devoted to the introductory advertising for Select Harvest soups.”

The company noted that it does not agree with certain of NAD’s findings, but is “ever mindful of the responsibility food and beverage advertisers bear to be helpful to their consumers.   Accordingly, we thank NAD for all of the recommendations it has made and will take these views into account in the development of our advertising.”