BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Finds Dollar Shave Club Commercials Don’t Imply Parity with Higher Priced Brands, Aren’t Falsely Disparaging; Claims at Issue Challenged by Schick

New York, NY –  June 11, 2015  – The National Advertising Division has determined that challenged broadcast and Internet advertising did not imply that razors purchased from Dollar Shave Club (DSC) perform at parity with higher-price competing products, nor did they convey a falsely denigrating message about competing products. Dollar Shave Club agreed during the course of the proceeding to discontinue certain claims.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

NAD examined advertising claims made by DSC following a challenge by Energizer Personal Care, LLC, the maker of Schick products.

In this case, NAD reviewed advertising that used slapstick humor and hyperbole to draw attention to the substantial price difference that separates the cost of DSC’s razors from the prices typically charged for name brand store-bought razors.

NAD noted in its decision that a humorous advertisement should not communicate a message that falsely disparages a competitor’s product.  In deciding this case, NAD balanced the advertiser’s right to promote the benefits of its product against the competitor’s right not to have its product falsely disparaged.

Neither party submitted survey evidence regarding the messages reasonably conveyed by the challenged advertisements.  In the absence of reliable survey evidence, NAD stands in the shoes of the consumer to determine the messages reasonably conveyed.

DSC’s “Free Gift” commercial depicted a consumer attempting to purchase razor blades made by a competing brand at the drugstore. In the process, he was kicked in the groin by the supposed “free gift” that comes with the razors.  In the “Pay Up” commercial,

the consumer was forced to pay for his blades by handing over his money, his grandfather’s watch and all of his clothing.  Both commercials featured the CEO of DSC, who asked whether the viewer was “tired of getting beat up by high razor prices? ships amazing razors for just a few bucks.”

The challenger contended that when the words and visual images were viewed together in such a comparative context, consumers were likely to take away the implied message that they could get the same performance with DSC razors, but without paying a higher price. Following its review, NAD determined that consumers are not likely to take away such a message.

NAD noted in its decision that, during the course of its review, the advertiser asserted that it would modify or discontinue certain claims, rather than submit supporting evidence. NAD determined that the advertiser’s actions were necessary and proper, based on a lack of evidence in the record and not based on a determination regarding the merits of the case.

The advertiser voluntarily agreed to permanently discontinue the following:

  • Allusions to competitive products and campaigns as “gimmicks” or shenanigans.”
  • Claims that lubrication strips on its razors “moisturize” the skin.
  • Claims that its Dr. Carver Shave Butter is the “World’s Finest Shave Butter.

Further, NAD noted that the advertiser voluntarily modified its advertising to clearly and conspicuously disclose that a $2 shipping and handling charge applies to the $1 purchase price of its least expensive Humble Twin razor package.

DSC, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “is grateful for NAD’s thoughtful review in this matter.”