BBB National Programs Archive

L’Oreal USA, Procter & Gamble Participate In NAD Forum

New York, NY – Dec. 17,  2008 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has determined that a packaging claim made by L’Oreal USA for its L’Oreal Excellence Crème hair coloring product is a non-comparative claim of general excellence, a message NAD determined was supported by the advertiser’s evidence.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined the packaging claim following a challenge by Procter & Gamble, the manufacturer of Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Gray Solution, a competing product.

The claim at issue appears in a small red banner on the front left corner of the L’Oreal Excellence Crème package and states in white letters “Superior Gray Coverage.”

The challenger maintained that a reasonable interpretation of the phrase “superior gray coverage” is that Excellence Crème provides better gray coverage than any of its competitors’ products.  The advertiser argued that “superior gray coverage” is a non-comparative reference to the product’s high quality and general excellence and appears in a non-comparative context.

NAD agreed with the challenger that the word “superior” clearly has the ability to convey both comparative and monadic meanings.  In past cases, in order to determine whether a non-comparative or comparative message was conveyed by a “superior” claim, NAD has considered two factors: whether the claim contains a provable, quantifiable attribute and, if so, whether the overall context in which the claim appears is non-comparative or comparative.

Following its determination that the claim “superior gray coverage” was non-comparative, NAD agreed with the challenger that it was not puffery but rather a specific claim of performance that requires substantiation.

As support for this claim, the advertiser submitted the results of consumer product usage studies undertaken in 2002 and 2007. In 2002, 86 percent of the women who used the product reported being “extremely” satisfied with the gray coverage three days after application.  Almost as many women, 82 percent, remained “extremely” or “very” satisfied with the gray coverage after two weeks.  After three days, more than 88 percent of women agreed “completely” or “somewhat” that Excellence Crème provides “superior gray coverage.”

In the 2007 study, 79 percent people with gray hair who had used Excellence Creme in the past 12 months reported that Excellence Creme was “excellent” or “very good” in terms of its ability to “cover gray completely.”  Among women with gray hair who said that they used Excellence Creme more often, 86 percent rated it “excellent” or “very good” for gray coverage.” NAD determined that these studies provide a reasonable basis for the advertiser’s non-comparative claim of general excellence.

L’Oreal, in its advertiser’s statement, said it appreciated “NAD’s thorough review of the issues posed by this challenge, and is pleased that NAD upheld our advertising.”