Should a claim that Finish dishwash detergent is the brand most recommended by the world's dishwasher manufacturers make clear that they may have been paid for those endorsements?
The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus thinks so, applying the same Federal Trade Commission rules that require bloggers or actors to disclose when they get paid to pitch products. On Wednesday, the NAD recommended RB discontinue two TV ads with that claim, as well as modifying product packaging and a free-standing newspaper insert. RB, the company better known as Reckitt Benckiser and marketer of Finish, doesn't believe the disclosure or changes are necessary, and said it will appeal the decision.
The Finish "#1 World's Recommended Brand" claim alone is "expressly truthful," the NAD said. But in the context of other claims on packaging about Finish preventing limescale, cutting through grease or having "quick dissolving cleaning power," the NAD said that claim could convey the unsupported message that the appliance-manufacturer recommendations were based on those things.
Plus, at least some appliance manufacturers – the NAD didn't say which or how – may be getting compensation to endorse Finish. Evidence in the case was unclear on the extent to which incentives motivated the recommendations, the NAD said.
The NAD also took issue with TV ads that compared Finish to challenger Procter & Gamble Co.'s Cascade for conveying an unsupported message that all Finish brand detergents are superior to all Cascade detergents and recommended the ads be discontinued on that basis.
RB had argued before the NAD that P&G provided no evidence that dishwasher manufacturers were being paid to recommend Finish, according to the NAD case report. But in its advertiser statement, RB said it "enters into a variety of agreements with dishwasher manufacturers throughout the world that involve different types of commercial relationships."
Therefore, NAD's recommendation "puts RB in a difficult position regarding compliance," the company said. Even if it added a disclosure regarding the role of incentives behind "#1 World's Recommended" claim, RB said, "It would not adequately describe the basis" for the claim. The company also said its packaging already makes clear that the recommendations aren't based on the other performance claims on the package.