P&G Settles Advertising Dispute With Rival Georgia-Pacific

Will Drop Claims That New Bounty Paper Towels Are Thicker

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co. is discontinuing ads and packaging claims that its new Bounty towels have "25% thicker quilts" to settle a lawsuit by Georgia-Pacific Corp., maker of Brawny, which charged the new towels really aren't much thicker at all.

The new Bounty packaging no longer claims '25% thicker' towels.
The new Bounty packaging no longer claims '25% thicker' towels.
The settlement comes just before a hearing that had been scheduled for Monday on G-P's motion for a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. A spokeswoman for Georgia-Pacific said P&G had agreed to "stop making and selling Bounty towels" bearing the "25% thicker" claim as well as media, point-of-purchase and media advertising behind the improved product.

G-P is getting no compensation as part of the settlement, and P&G is not acknowledging any wrongdoing.

A P&G spokesman said Bounty already had planned to change the packaging artwork in August, according to industry standards limiting use of the claim a product is "new" after six months.

"However, we are accelerating this change as part of our mutual agreement with G-P, and the suit will be dismissed," the P&G spokesman said. He declined to comment on how claims on the new packaging and new advertising would be handled.

G-P had blasted the claim and ad campaign, from Publicis Worldwide, New York, in a complaint, claiming that regardless of the thickness of the "quilts," or indentations on the towels, tests of the new Bounty towels showed them to be at most 5% thicker than prior versions, with most no thicker at all.

In a brief supporting its motion for a preliminary injunction, G-P cited consumer tests indicating that 56% of potential paper-towel purchasers exposed to the Bounty packaging falsely believed that the towels themselves, not the quilts, were 25% thicker. The complaint cited a similar assumption found in a Wall Street Journal story in February.

According to G-P's complaint, "there are no substantiated performance benefits attributable to having 25% thicker quilts," though Bounty's TV ad promised it "cleans the mess with less."

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