S.C. Johnson Appeals NAD Recommendations to Modify Superior Strength, Unbeatable Freshness and Unbeatable Protection Claims for Ziploc Storage Bags
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New York, NY – November 10, 2021 – S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. will appeal a BBB National Programs National Advertising Division (NAD) decision that the company modify the following claims for its Ziploc storage bags to make clear the relevant conditions under which consumers would experience the claimed benefits:
- Claims that Ziploc Slider bags are “stronger than Hefty on punctures and tears” and that Ziploc’s entire line of storage bags are stronger than Hefty’s comparable line of storage bags.
- “Unbeatable protection” and “outperform competitors in strength and reliability,” as well as related implied claims.
- “Unbeatable freshness” and “preserves and extends the life of food” (to the extent the context implies a comparative message), as well as a related implied claim.
- “Unbeatable technology.”
The claims at issue, which appeared in two commercials on Amazon.com, on Ziploc’s product packaging, on free-standing inserts, and on Ziploc’s website, were challenged by Reynolds Consumer Products, LLC, the manufacturer of Hefty storage bags.
NAD determined that the “stronger than Hefty on punctures and tears” claim conveyed a message that Ziploc’s entire line of storage bags are stronger than Hefty’s comparable line of storage bags. Further, NAD concluded that the advertiser’s ASTM tests were reliable tests of puncture and tear resistance for plastic bags when exposed to a falling object. However, NAD found that such tests do not support a general, unqualified superiority claim on punctures and tears because the advertiser failed to connect the results to examples of real-world use. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its claims to make clear the relevant conditions under which consumers would experience the claimed benefits.
NAD concluded that the “unbeatable protection” and “outperform competitors in strength and reliability” claims, as used in the context of the challenged advertising, could be understood by consumers to mean that Ziploc storage bags offer equivalent, or even superior, protection to all comparable competitor storage bags across a broad range of meaningful metrics – claims that are not supported. Because the advertiser’s ASTM testing provided a reasonable basis for a claim when properly limited to the circumstances of the testing, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue these claims or modify them to make clear the conditions under which consumers would experience the claimed benefits. NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from making supported claims about its bags and the conditions under which its bags provide benefits to consumers.
Regarding the claims “unbeatable freshness” and “preserves and extends the life of food,” NAD determined that although the advertiser did not specify competitor products in its advertising, consumers are likely to believe that Ziploc bags are unsurpassed by all comparable competitor products in preserving freshness. NAD concluded that the advertiser’s moisture loss test was not a good fit for the unqualified comparative freshness claims and recommended that the advertiser modify such claims to make clear the relevant conditions under which consumers would experience the claimed benefits.
As it appears in the challenged free-standing insert, NAD determined that consumers will reasonably understand the “unbeatable technology” claim to mean that Ziploc storage bags have the best technology in preserving freshness and providing protection. Because the evidence was not a good fit for claims that Ziploc bags are superior to all competitor storage bags as to freshness and protection, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify this claim to make clear the applicable circumstances under which consumers will experience the claimed benefit.
During the proceeding, the advertiser voluntarily discontinued the following claims:
- “Strongest film against punctures and tears.”
- “Easier to open and close than any other bag.”
- The implied claim that when Hefty storage bags are used in the real world they will easily tear apart and are therefore of lesser quality.
- The implied claim that Ziploc’s storage bags are easier to open than all other competitor’s comparable storage bags.
Therefore, NAD did not review these claims on the merits.
In its advertiser statement, S.C. Johnson stated that it will appeal NAD’s decision, except that it will comply with NAD’s recommendation regarding “unbeatable technology” because it is no longer using this claim. The advertiser expressed its belief that “industry-standard testing provides a reasonable basis for its expressly qualified claim that Ziploc Slider bags are stronger than Hefty on punctures and tears” and that “no further qualification is necessary.” Such appeals of NAD decisions are made to the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
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