National Advertising Division (NAD)

NAD Recommends Discontinuance of Certain “Natural” Claims for Air Wick Essential Mist and Scented Oils; Finds “Lasts up to 60 days” Claim Supported

For Immediate Release 

Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs, 301.412.7769 / ahills@bbbnp.org 

 

New York, NY – June 10, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that Reckitt Benckiser discontinue certain challenged “natural” claims for Air Wick Fragrance Essential Mist and Air Wick Scented Oils, but determined that the advertiser’s durational claim that Scented Oils “lasts up to 60 days” was substantiated. The claims were challenged by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., manufacturer of the competing Glade brand of home fragrance products.  

The claims challenged by S.C. Johnson, which appeared in online advertising, in television commercials, on product packaging, and on Reckitt Benckiser’s website, included but were not limited to: 

 

Express claims: 

  • “Air Wick Essential Mist is an Expression of Nature, transforming natural essential oils into a fragrant mist.” 

  • “How do we make a scented oil plug in that doesn’t smell fake? Start with the essence of nature. Air Wick Scented Oils are infused with essential oils that are 100% natural to fill every corner with the fragrance of nature.” 

  • “Infused with 100% natural essential oils.” 

  • “Lasts up to 60 days.” 

 

Implied Claims: 

  • Air Wick Essential Mist and Scented Oils are “natural” products. 

  • Air Wick Essential Mist and Scented Oils contain no synthetic or artificial ingredients. 

  • The fragrance of Air Wick Essential Mist and Scented Oils comes entirely from essential oils and is 100% natural. 

  • All Air Wick fragrance refills last up to 60 hours. 

  • All Air Wick fragrance refills last 20% longer than refills from other brands, including Glade® from SCJ. 

 

The advertiser informed NAD that it would permanently discontinue the challenged claims that the Essential Mist “naturally diffuses fragrances into mist” and provides a “natural fragrance experience”;  that it would permanently modify the title of the commercial for the Scented Oils on Reckitt Benckiser’s YouTube channel that had been titled “100% Natural”; and that it  would permanently discontinue the claims that the Scented Oil refills last “20% longer than other brands.” In reliance on the advertiser’s representations, NAD did not review these claims on the merits. The voluntarily discontinued and modified claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply. 

With regard to the advertiser’s “natural” claims, NAD noted that the products contain a mixture of natural and synthetic ingredients. Though it was undisputed that these products contain some measure of natural essential oils, the focus was on whether Reckitt Benckiser’s advertising reasonably conveys any unsupported messages about the “natural” content. 

The Essential Mist challenged commercials do not indicate that the product contains synthetic content. NAD determined that the language “transforming natural essential oils into a fragrant mist,” combined with the imagery in the commercials, reasonably conveys an unsupported message that the essential oils are the only or primary ingredient and that the Essential Mist generates an all naturally derived scent or a predominantly naturally derived scent.  NAD determined that similar unsupported messages are reasonably conveyed in certain product packaging and online advertising as well, and as a result, recommended that Reckitt Benckiser discontinue the challenged “natural” claims for the Essential Mist made in its commercials, online advertising, and on product packaging, including claims that the Essential Mist  “transforms” natural essential oils into mist.  NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes Reckitt Benckiser from making truthful, non-misleading claims about the natural essential oil content of its Essential Mist products. 

With regard to the advertising for Scented Oils, NAD determined that the prominent display of “100%,” the natural imagery, and the absence of any hint that the Scented Oils contain synthetic ingredients in the product’s commercials led to an impression that the product is all-natural, a claim not supported by the record.  Accordingly, NAD recommended that Reckitt Benckiser discontinue the challenged execution of “infused with essential oils that are 100% natural" in its Scented Oils commercial, or in the alternative, modify the commercial to decrease the visual prominence of “100%” and otherwise avoid conveying the misleading message that the product is 100% natural. 

Further, NAD determined that while the language “Infused with Natural Essential Oils” standing alone is not misleading, as it appears on the front panel of the Scented Oils packaging it could reasonably convey a misleading message that the products contain more natural content than they do. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the front panel of the Scented Oils’  packaging to more prominently display the “infused with” language and that it appear in a location where it cannot be obscured. NAD also recommended that Reckitt Benckiser discontinue the claim “Infused with 100% natural essentials oils” as it appears in some Scented Oils packaging, on the back panel, in a box resembling an ingredients panel.  NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes Reckitt Benckiser from making truthful, non-misleading claims about the natural essential oil content of its Scented Oils products. 

Finally, with regard to the claim that Scented Oil refills last “up to 60 days,” NAD determined that Reckitt Benckiser’s in-house testing was reliable support and provided the advertiser with a reasonable basis for its durational claims across its line of Scented Oil products. Thus, NAD concluded that the advertiser’s claims that Scented Oils products last up to 60-days when operating on a low setting were substantiated. 

In its advertiser’s statement, Reckitt Benckiser stated that it will comply with NAD’s recommendations.  

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About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD), a division 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.     

About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. This independent, non-profit organization enhances trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution, and accountability programs. BBB National Programs’ 10 leading industry self-regulation and dispute resolution programs resolve business issues of national and international importance, and fosters industry best practices in truth-in-advertising, child-directed marketing, data privacy, and dispute resolution. To learn more about industry self-regulation, visit bbbprograms.org.