BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Clorox Discontinue Superior Performance Claim, Side-by-Side Comparison with OxiClean WR; Advertiser to Appeal

New York, NY – May 8,  2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that The Clorox Company discontinue certain performance claims made in print, Internet and television advertising for Clorox Regular Liquid Bleach. The claims at issue were challenged by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., the maker of OxiClean White Revive. The advertiser has said it will appeal NAD’s decision to the National Advertising Review Board.

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

Church & Dwight took issue with the express claim “Eliminates stains better than OxiClean.”

NAD also considered whether the challenged advertising implied that Clorox Regular Liquid Bleach is superior to OxiClean WR in eliminating all stains, including tough stains such as the spaghetti stain depicted in the challenged advertisements.

The issue before NAD in this case was whether the advertiser tested OxiClean WR according to the product’s use instructions for “tough” stains such as the one depicted in the commercial. All of the advertiser’s comparative product performance testing was conducted through-the-wash.  NAD considered whether the omission of a pre-soak step before washing with OxiClean was a material flaw in the advertiser’s testing.

The advertiser argued that the challenged advertisements depicted a highly relevant side-by-side comparison of stained white t-shirts and the superior stain removal performance of Clorox Regular Bleach versus OxiClean WR through-the-wash, without a pre-soak. The advertiser stressed that the challenger markets OxiClean WR as a through-the-wash stain removal solution and, as a result, all of its comparative product performance testing was conducted through-the-wash.

The challenger contended that its directions for use include through-the-wash instructions. At the same time, separate use instructions for “tough” stains state “Pre-Soak heavily stained or soiled loads in 1 scoop of OxiClean for 6 hours…FOR BEST RESULTS.”

NAD determined that while OxiClean WR’s use instructions do make clear that “tough” stains require some kind of pre-soak, the product’s directions might leave consumers confused about the length of time a stained garment needs to soak.

The advertiser conducted its comparative performance testing pursuant to industry standards. However, NAD took issue with the advertiser’s failure to pre-soak any of the test swatches for any period of time.  Given that the OxiClean WR label recommends a pre-soak for tough stains, NAD determined that the advertiser’s through-the-wash testing was a material flaw and rendered the study insufficiently reliable to support the advertiser’s unqualified superior stain removal claim.

NAD recommended that the demonstrations featured in the challenged advertisement be discontinued. NAD further recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claim “Eliminates stains better than OxiClean.”  NAD noted that its decision does not prevent the advertiser from promoting other benefits of its product, including the fact that pre-soaking is not required.

Clorox, in its advertiser’s statement, said that “Given the obvious ambiguity in the OxiClean product use instructions, however, and NAD’s acknowledgment that most consumers do not pre-soak stained garments, the depiction of side-by-side performance on tough stains when the products are used through-the-wash was appropriate and NAD’s recommendation  unwarranted.  Accordingly, Clorox will appeal the decision to the National Advertising Review Board.”