Any doubts that multi-blade behemoth Gillette has noticed the competition from tiny Bevel single-blade safety razors has now been put to rest. So has most of the Procter & Gamble Co. brand's challenge to Bevel's ad claims before the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The NAD today issued a finding that Bevel can support certain modified claims for its single-blade razors, though it did recommend the brand discontinue claims its razor system is "clinically proven" or "dermatologist recommended."
It found Bevel -- developed by Walker & Co. for people of color with coarse, curly hair -- could support the claim that regular use of its single-blade razors could help improve pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB), or the uncomfortable bumps, ingrown hairs and skin irritation that can be a side effect of shaving. PFB can lead to hyperpigmentation and scarring. It affects up to 20% of Caucasian men and a far larger proportion of African American men and other people of color, the NAD noted.
The NAD also said Bevel had a reasonable basis for claims that using a single-blade razor in general is better tolerated by PFB sufferers than a multi-blade razor and is better at helping prevent razor bumps and ingrown hair. And it determined the brand had a reasonable basis for its claim that it is "the first and only end-to-end shaving system specifically designed to help reduce razor bumps and irritation."
But the NAD concluded Bevel had insufficient evidence to back its "clinically proven" or "dermatologist recommended" or "dermatologist tested" claims based on the approval of the single dermatologist referenced in its ads. The advertising self-regulatory body said Bevel should avoid conveying the message that its users can get a shave that's as close or closer than that of a multi-blade razor. But the NAD said the brand could claim its razors are "dermatologist approved."
Bevel already had modified or discontinued some of those claims. In a statement, Walker & Co. took issue with some of the NAD's findings but said it agreed to comply. "The company appreciates the NAD's recognition that Bevel is the first and only end-to-end shaving system specifically designed to help reduce and and prevent razor bumps and irritation in people of color, a growing population historically underserved by old-line health and beauty companies," Walker & Co. said.
Bevel is a relatively small challenge to Gillette at this point, even compared to other online razor upstarts such as Dollar Shave Club or Harry's, which register as far bigger players in Slice Intelligence tracking of e-commerce razor sales. But the brand has expanded into Target stores in the past year and is backed by high-profile investors.
P&G challenged the challenger brand in the lower-cost forum of the NAD rather than filing a federal suit, as it and other big players have done at times in recent years.