BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Kimberly-Clark Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims Made for Huggies Following P&G Challenge

New York, NY – April 5, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Kimberly-Clark modify or discontinue claims that its Huggies diapers brand is the “fastest growing brand in hospitals.” The advertiser said it will appeal that finding 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.

The claims at issue, made in broadcast, print and internet advertising, were challenged by The Procter & Gamble Company, the maker of Pampers diapers. P&G challenged express claims that included:

  • Huggies diapers is the fastest growing brand in hospitals (“based on volume share growth.”)
  • More hospitals than ever are choosing Huggies.

NAD also considered whether the advertising implied that hospitals purchase more Huggies diapers than any other brand.

NAD noted in its decision that the advertiser’s claim that Huggies is the “fastest growing brand in hospitals,” is a “strong claim directed at impressionable new parents, made alongside depictions of hospital scenes of the tender first moments after childbirth between mothers and fathers and their newborn, heightening the impact of its claim touting the increasing use of Huggies in hospitals.”

As NAD outlined in the decision, When K-C first began to make the claim that it was the “fastest growing brand in hospitals,” it based its claim on internal sales data as corroborated by third-party market data from GHX. Over time, K-C questioned the reliability of GHX’s estimate preparation process and resultant data and ultimately, decided to rely only on its internal sales tracking data in support of its “fastest growing brand in hospitals” claim.

According to K-C’s data, its sales and shipping volume to acute care hospitals have grown steadily and significantly year-to-year.  K-C contends that it can accurately track its volume of sales to acute care hospitals and make reliable assumptions about the trends in competitive diaper sales in the hospital channel. To that end, K-C maintains, Pampers could not possibly maintain its market volume share while Huggies volume increases and, therefore, its Huggies must be “the fastest growing brand in hospitals.”

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that K-C’s internal sales data and its arguments regarding the sales of its main competitor, Pampers, are based on assumptions and do not meet the evidentiary standard of providing a reasonable basis for the claim, “fastest growing brand in hospitals.”

Additionally, NAD said, the claim ignores the growth of smaller niche brands. Consequently, NAD recommended that the advertiser’s claim that Huggies is the, “fastest growing brand in hospitals (based on volume share growth.)”  NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim.

NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes K-C from crafting a more narrowly tailored, stand-alone claim concerning Huggies’ increasing presence in the hospital channel.

NAD further recommended that K-C discontinue the claim “more hospitals are choosing Huggies,” finding that the claim implied more hospitals are selecting Huggies over Pampers, a message that the evidence in the record did not support.

Kimberly-Clark, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company believes NAD erred in its decision and will appeal NAD’s recommendation to discontinue the claim that Huggies is the “fastest growing brand in hospitals.”

K-C also disagrees with NAD’s determination that the claim “more hospitals are choosing Huggies” implies that more hospitals are selecting Huggies over Pampers when used in a non-comparative context. However, it will not appeal and will comply with this recommendation, the company said.

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.