BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Reynolds Discontinue Certain Claims for Hefty Bags Following Clorox Challenge; Advertiser to Appeal Certain Findings to NARB

New York, NY – Feb. 7, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Reynolds Consumer Products, LLC, discontinue advertising that conveyed certain comparative performance claims for the company’s Hefty brand trash bags, following a challenge by The Clorox Company, the maker of Glad trash bags. NAD further recommended that Reynolds discontinue its “Costs Less Than Glad” claim, a finding that Reynolds said it would appeal to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

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

Clorox took issue with two television spots that featured professional wrestler John Cena as a proxy for Reynolds’ Hefty “Ultra Strong” bags and comedian Rob Schneider – smaller and less muscular than Cena – represented competing “Wimpy” trash bags.

Both spots feature the low pitched chant “Hefty, Hefty, Hefty” where Cena was pictured and the higher pitched chant “Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy” where Schneider was pictured. Both commercials ended with shots of Hefty Ultra Strong packaging next to the words “COSTS LESS THAN GLAD” in large font and the accompanying narration: “Get new Hefty Ultra Strong with Arm & Hammer Odor Control, now costs less than Glad.” A small mice type disclosure stated:  “Based on avg. retail price per bag. Nielsen 52wks ending 6/4/16.”

Following its review, NAD determined that the “Wimpy” brand in the commercials represented Glad and the challenged television commercials reasonably conveyed the message that Glad trash bags are weaker and perform poorly in comparison to Hefty trash bags, a message that was not supported by the evidence in the record. NAD recommended that the commercials’ performance comparisons be discontinued. (Radio advertising challenged by Clorox obviously did not feature the same visual cues that led, in part, to NAD’s recommendations regarding Reynolds’ television advertising and NAD concluded that the radio ad did not falsely disparage Glad trash bags.)

NAD determined that the claim that Hefty “costs less than Glad” was a line claim that required evidence that each trash bag in the Hefty line of trash bags costs less than the equivalent Glad-branded trash bag regardless of where they are purchased.

Because Glad trash bags are generally available at wholesale club stores at lower prices than Hefty trash bags and because the evidence in the record shows that Hefty’s basic large outdoor trash bags are not sold at lower prices than Glad’s equivalent trash bag, NAD determined that the advertiser’s broad, unqualified claim that its bags “cost less than Glad” was unsupported and recommended that the claim be discontinued. However, it noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from making a supported “low price” claim in a stand-alone context or site- and time-specific truthful comparative lower price claims.

Reynolds, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while the company “disagrees with the NAD’s conclusion that its television commercials implied a performance comparison,” the company will comply with NAD’s recommendations regarding a performance comparison. However, Reynolds said, it “will be appealing NAD’s recommendation regarding its pricing claims.”

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.