National Advertising Division (NAD)

National Advertising Division Recommends Modification to Label of Ecover Dish Soap to Clearly Identify that Biodegradable Claim Applies Only to Product Formula

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Brett, Director, NAD 212.705.0109 / lbrett@bbbnp.org

 

 

New York, NY – March 9, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (“NAD”) recommended that S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. (“SCJ”) modify use of the claim “biodegradable” on the front label of its Ecover dish soap product to make clear that it only applies to the product formula and not the product packaging, following a challenge by The Procter & Gamble Company (“P&G”), maker of Dawn dish soap.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB National Programs’ self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

During the pendency of this proceeding, the advertiser agreed to permanently discontinue the claim “non-toxic.” NAD, relying on SCJ’s representation that this claim will be permanently discontinued, did not review the claim on its merits. The voluntarily discontinued claim will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended its discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

The advertiser informed NAD that prior to the commencement of this challenge, it permanently discontinued the challenged “100% natural fragrance” claim. As such, NAD concluded that the “100% natural fragrance” claim is no longer appropriate for review in this forum and refrained from reviewing this claim on the merits.

With regard to the “biodegradable” claim, the advertiser presented NAD with testing in support of the biodegradability of the dish soap product formula. Although the challenger accepted that SCJ’s support demonstrated that the Ecover formula is biodegradable, it argued that the advertiser’s unqualified use of “biodegradable” requires it to demonstrate that the entire product, including its packaging, is biodegradable. Whereas, the advertiser maintained that no reasonable consumer would misinterpret the “biodegradable” claim to apply to the product package.

NAD noted that on the challenged label, the “biodegradable” claim appears in conjunction with another claim that refers to the dish soap itself (i.e., “Non-toxic and biodegradable”). However, because the advertiser voluntarily agreed to discontinue the “non-toxic” claim, nothing in close proximity to the “biodegradable” claim limits it to the soap and not the bottle. NAD considered the message reasonably conveyed by use of the claim “biodegradable” on the modified front label of the product and determined that neither the other claims on the front label, nor the fish illustration, were adequate to clearly limit the unqualified “biodegradable” claim. Therefore, NAD recommended that SCJ modify the use of the claim “biodegradable” on the front label of its Ecover dish soap product to make clear that it only applies to the product formula and not the product packaging.

In its advertiser’s statement, SCJ stated that it “will comply with NAD’s decision to specify on label that Ecover’s dish soap formula is biodegradable, distinguishing it from the packaging, which was the company’s original intent.”

 

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About the National Advertising Division: National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation overseeing the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for truth and accuracy.

 

About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs fosters trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution and other programs. BBB National Programs is the home of industry self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs that include the National Advertising Division (NAD), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), BBB EU Privacy Shield, BBB AUTO LINE, Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), Children’s Confection Advertising Initiative (CCAI), Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), Digital Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program), and the Coalition for Better Advertising Dispute Resolution Program (CBA DRM). The programs are designed to resolve business issues and advance shared objectives by responding to marketplace concerns to create a better customer experience. To learn more about industry self-regulation, please visit: BBBNP.org.