National Advertising Division Recommends P&G Discontinue Odor Elimination Claims for Febreze Products; P&G to Appeal

For Immediate Release
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org

New York, NY – June 9, 2022 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) discontinue certain “odor elimination” claims that P&G makes across the Febreze line of home fragrance products, which include the Febreze Air, Light, Fabric, Plug, Small Spaces, Candles, Wax Melts, Car, and Unstopable products. P&G will appeal NAD’s decision. 

The claims, which appeared in online advertisements, commercials and on the Febreze website, were challenged by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., manufacturer of the competing line of Glade brand of products.

NAD determined that certain commercials on the Febreze website reasonably convey the message that Febreze products physically and chemically eliminate odors on a molecular level; whereas other challenged advertisements reasonably convey a message limited to the perception of malodor (sensory odor elimination).

Although the advertiser submitted evidence of extensive testing along with reports from experts in relevant fields, NAD concluded that the advertiser’s sensory testing evidence was not a good fit for claims of physically or chemically eliminating malodor on a molecular level because sensory testing, by itself, is insufficient to support a non-sensory elimination claim.

Further, NAD found that the advertiser’s sensory testing, known as Difference From Control testing, was not a good fit for claims of sensory odor elimination (including instant and continuous elimination).

Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the challenged express and implied claims that Febreze eliminates odors, such as: 

  • “Febreze Air eliminates odors in an instant,” 
  • “Want to eliminate odors without heavy overwhelming scents? We get it. Introducing Febreze Light. It eliminates odors with no heavy perfumes in light scents you’ll love,”
  • “Febreze Fabric Refresher “eliminates sunk-in-stink with long-lasting freshness,”
  • “Did you know that your nose gets used to the odors in your home? That’s right. You go noseblind, but others smell…this. Luckily, there’s Febreze Plug. It continuously eliminates lingering odors…,”
  • Febreze Small Spaces is an “odor eliminator,”
  • Febreze Car Vent Clips are the “best car air fresheners to eliminate car odors for good,”
  • Every Febreze product reduces odor to an olfactory level that is not detectable to the average consumer, and
  • Every Febreze product reduces all types of odor to an olfactory level that is not detectable to the average consumer.

 

NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes the advertiser from making truthful and non-misleading claims that Febreze products reduce the perception of malodor or that Febreze products physically and chemically affect malodor at the molecular level, including claims that the products work instantaneously or continuously.

In its advertiser statement, P&G stated that it will appeal NAD’s decision because it “fundamentally disagrees” with “NAD’s conclusion that P&G has not substantiated any claim of sensory odor elimination.” The advertiser maintained that the “challenged claims are substantiated by robust and reliable data” and that the “record evidence demonstrates that all in-market Febreze products, and the proprietary OdorClear™ technologies they contain, in fact, eliminate malodor molecules to an olfactory level that is undetectable to consumers.” 

Such appeals of NAD decisions are made to BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.


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