BBB National Programs Archive

Scotts Discontinues Challenged Television Commercials; NAD Examines Scotts’ Sweepstakes Promotion

New York, NY – Oct. 19, 2015 – The Scotts Company LLC has voluntarily discontinued advertising claims made in certain television commercials for the company’s Ortho Home Defense, Ortho Bug-B-Gon, and Ortho Weed-B-Gon products. The claims were challenged by United Industries Corporation, the maker of the Spectracide line of competing household insect and weed control products.

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 challenged claims included:

  • Spectracide gives you year-long control of just roaches. The label says so.”
  • “Spectracide gives you season-long control of just ants. Their label says so.”

The challenger also asserted that Scotts used a sweepstakes incentive to inflate its social media presence, and misled consumers by encouraging others to post product reviews without disclosing that an incentive was offered.

In response to NAD’s initial inquiry, Scotts informed NAD that the commercials had been permanently discontinued and that the company had “no plans to re-release the challenged commercials or online ads, or use the claims therein in the same form in future advertising.”

NAD noted in its decision that it appreciated Scotts’ voluntary discontinuance of the challenged commercials and the claims. In reliance on the advertiser’s representation that the claims had been permanently discontinued, NAD did not review the claims on their merits.  The voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

The challenged sweepstakes promotion at issue offered the chance to win a $25 Visa gift card as an incentive to review Scotts’ products.  The Official Rules for the Scotts’ sweepstakes informed consumers that they were required to disclose that their review was submitted as part of a “Sweepstakes entry.”

When Scotts became aware that consumers were not including the proper disclosure as part of their sweepstakes entry, NAD noted, the company took several corrective steps: Scotts included the disclosure requirement necessary for entry in its online advertisement, directed its customer-review aggregator to apply a “Sweepstakes Entry” tag to each review and placed a disclosure on its own website where the customer reviews were displayed while the aggregator completed its tagging. NAD noted that it found the advertiser’s efforts to disclose the material connection between the endorsers and the advertiser to be “sufficient and proper.”

NAD further noted that it expects the advertiser, in any future advertising, to take similar steps to ensure that consumer reviews clearly and conspicuously disclose the material connection between the endorser and the advertiser.

Scotts, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “accepts the NAD’s decision to consider the spots and challenged claims presented therein ‘discontinued’ in light of a lack of evidence in the record and not based on a determination regarding the merits of the challenge.”

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.