BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Examines Advertising for S.C. Johnson ‘Glade Fabric & Air Odor Eliminator,’ Following Challenge by P&G

New York, New York – August 18 , 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has determined that S.C. Johnson & Son has provided reasonable support for its claim that Glade Fabric and Air Odor Eliminator “penetrates deeper” into carpet than a competing product. However, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue visuals in broadcast advertising that aren’t supported by evidence.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined the comparative superior performance claim following a challenge by the Procter & Gamble Company, manufacturer of Febreze.  Specifically, P&G took issue with the claim that Glade Fabric and Air Odor Eliminator “penetrates deeper than Febreze on carpet.”

In the challenged television commercial, the protagonist is depicted spraying the advertiser’s product in a closet and on a dog bed as the announcer introduces the product and then states: that Glade Fabric & Air “penetrates deeper than Febreze on carpet.”  The commercial features a close-up of the parties’ respective products as they are sprayed on a carpet.  The camera then cuts to a side-by-side close-up of carpet fibers with droplets seen penetrating into the carpet. The commercial depicts droplets of the advertiser’s product, penetrating deeper into the carpet fibers.

The challenger noted that it had conducted three different tests to assess the relative abilities of Glade Fabric & Air and Febreze to penetrate carpets, resulting in data that demonstrated Febreze penetrates deeper on carpets than the advertiser’s product.  The challenger asserted that its testing took into consideration more consumer relevant conditions typical of the average consumer experience, which were then applied to the laboratory setting. 

The advertiser offered technical testing in support of its claim that Glade Fabric & Air penetrates carpet more deeply than Febreze.  The advertiser used two tests to assess the “wetting characteristics” of the products, assessing the respective liquids’ ability to penetrate fabric. 

NAD noted in its decision that the most direct and relevant testing was the carpet penetration testing provided by the parties. Specifically, NAD noted that the advertiser provided microscopic photographic evidence from which measurements were taken demonstrating that the advertiser’s product was able to penetrate an average of 3.08 mm into the nylon carpet – the most used fiber for carpet in the United States. The challenger’s product penetrated 0.81 mm into the fibers.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the results of the penetration testing provided a reasonable basis for the advertiser’s claim that Glade Fabric & Air penetrates deeper on carpet than Febreze.

However, NAD noted that visuals in the commercial – the close-range spraying of Glade Fabric & Air on a dog bed and on carpet – were inconsistent with the advertiser’s testing, where the products were sprayed onto the carpet from a distance of 18 inches. NAD was concerned that the advertiser’s substantiation did not establish deeper penetration when used in these circumstances and therefore recommended that the challenged advertisement be modified to discontinue the visuals.

S.C. Johnson, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company is pleased with NAD’s determination regarding the penetration claim.

“While we do not feel that the visuals in the commercial were misleading, SC Johnson is a strong supporter of the industry self-regulatory process and we will take the NAD’s views into consideration in future advertising.  We want to thank the NAD for its diligent and thoughtful consideration of this matter,” the company said.