BBB National Programs Archive

NARB Recommends Reckitt Benckiser Discontinue Advertisements for Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Sprays, Challenged by Clorox

New York, NY – June 30, 2016 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has recommended that Reckitt Benckiser, Inc., discontinue advertisements for the company’s Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Spray products that were challenged by The Clorox Company.

NARB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Reckitt Benckiser’s claims were initially challenged by Clorox, maker of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and Spray products, before the National Advertising Division (NAD), an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation.

Clorox challenged claims made in print and broadcast that included:

  • “Approved to kill 45% More Types of Germs vs. Leading Brand of Wipes*

(*Based on EPA Approved Master Labels. Lysol Spray vs. Competitors’ EPA Master Labels.”)

During the NAD proceeding, the advertiser contended that it clearly discloses that its “approved to kill … more types of germs” claims are based on Environmental Protection Agency approved Master Labels.

NAD concluded that the net impression of the challenged claims was that Lysol products actually kill 45% more germs than Clorox products and, as such, will keep families healthier – messages that were not supported by the evidence in the record. NAD recommended that the advertiser’s claims be discontinued. The advertiser appealed NAD’s findings to the

National Advertising Review Board (NARB.)

The NARB panel found that the challenged advertisements reasonably conveyed messages that Lysol wipes and spray kill more types of germs than Clorox wipes and spray, and families who use Lysol wipes and spray will be better protected from typically encountered germs as compared to families who use Clorox wipes and spray. The panel noted that consumers are unlikely to understand that manufacturers have discretion to apply for EPA approval with respect to specific germs, and the fact that a disinfectant is not approved by the EPA with respect to a specific germ does not mean that the disinfectant can’t kill that germ.

The panel recommended that Reckitt Benckiser discontinue the challenged advertisements. The panel also recommended that any advertisements indicating that Lysol wipes or spray have been approved by the EPA to kill more types of germs

than competing products clearly and conspicuously disclose in the body of the claim that manufacturers are not required to seek EPA approval for each germ that a disinfectant kills, and avoid any implication that Lysol wipes or spray actually kill more types of germs than competing products.

Reckitt Benckiser, in its advertiser’s statement, said that it “respects that both NAD and the NARB panel interpreted certain elements of RB’s Lysol advertising as conveying an unsupported message, and will discontinue the challenged advertisements, and also will take the NARB panel’s recommendations into consideration in any future advertising that

includes claims that Lysol wipes or sprays have been approved by the EPA to kill

more types of germs than competing products.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD or NARB 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 and NARB not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.