BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Church & Dwight Discontinue ‘Scary Bleach’ Commercial, Noting Need for Independent Substantiation of Ad Claims

New York, NY – Feb. 9,  2016 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Church & Dwight Co., Inc., the maker of OxiClean White Revive, discontinue a commercial entitled “Scary Bleach,” that featured advertising claims based on the content of federally mandated garment care labels. NAD also recommended that C&D modify a second commercial to remove words like “worry” and “warning” when referring to garment care labels and avoid conveying a message that chlorine bleach is damaging to white garments.

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

The claims at issue were challenged by The Clorox Company and included:

  • Bleach is “scary.”
  • “We read care labels on thousands of white garments and we were surprised they had this warning symbol which means do not use chlorine bleach.”
  • “Get the tough stains out without the worry of chlorine bleach.”
  • “Do not use Chlorine bleach.”
  • “Try OxiClean White Revive.  The way clothes love to be whitened.”

Both C&D’s “Scary Bleach” and “Test Labs” spots referenced garment care labels that direct consumers to use “only non-chlorine bleach, when needed.”  Garment care labels are placed on clothing by manufacturers to comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Care Labeling Rule. The rule requires advertisers to label garments with care instructions and to have “a reasonable basis for all regular care information disclosed to the purchaser.”

NAD noted in its decision, however, that the evidence clothing manufacturers use to meet their obligation under the FTC’s rule might not meet the standards NAD requires for an advertiser to provide a reasonable basis for its advertising claims – particularly if those claims denigrate a competitor’s product.

“If C&D’s advertising conveys the message that bleach is damaging or scary to white garments, it must have a reasonable basis for that claim, based on reliable testing, demonstrating that chlorine bleach is damaging to the kinds of white garments depicted in the advertising,” NAD found.

Following its review of the advertising at issue and the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the “Scary Bleach” commercial and avoid conveying the message that chlorine bleach is damaging to white clothes.

NAD further recommended the advertiser modify its “Test Lab” commercial to remove words like “worry” and “warning” when referring to the care labels on garments and avoid conveying a message that chlorine bleach is damaging to white garments.

In considering the “Test Lab” commercial, NAD concluded that C&D’s claim that OxiClean WR removes stains – presented in a stand-alone context – did not require a disclosure that product instructions direct consumers to presoak for 1-6 hours for best results on tough stains.

NAD noted, however, that should the advertiser use a product demonstration where pre-soaking is necessary to get the results depicted to consumers, it must disclose how the results were achieved – a finding in line with previous NAD decisions.

Church & Dwight, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “is appreciative of NAD’s careful consideration of this matter, and agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.