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TOILET BRUSH MARKETING BATTLE BUBBLES OVER

Clorox Agrees to Pull Ads After Better Business Bureau Criticism

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- A down and dirty war of words over toilet brushes has ended with a Clorox Co. agreement to pull TV ads for the Clorox Toilet Wand.
The NAD found that a Clorox TV commercial 'falsely denigrates' a competitor's product.

The move comes after the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus cited an unsupported Clorox preference claim that falsely disparaged rival SC Johnson’s Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush.

The companies are the two leading players in a three-way battle for supremacy in souped-up toilet brushes, along with Reckitt Benckiser’s Lysol. SC Johnson’s product leads the pack with a projected $31 million in first-year sales in a $74 million segment, according to Information Resources Inc.

'Falsely denigrates' product
“The references [in the TV commercial] to ‘Hate that papery version of a toilet brush’ and ‘Get rid of it,’ together with the woman, with a look of disgust, taking a garden hose and pointing it at the ragged-looking, wet Fresh Brush, which then blows away in the wind, falsely denigrates the Fresh Brush because it conveys the message that it is flimsy and thus ineffective,” the NAD said in its decision.

The NAD also found fault with Clorox’s preference claim: “No wonder people who have tried both prefer Toilet Wand 3 to 1.” The decision noted that the research supporting the claim was among consumers approached at shopping malls who then used both products on clean toilets. The clean-toilet test wasn’t a methodological flaw, because the preference could have been based on other attributes, such as “form and delivery,” the NAD said, but that the Clorox ad didn’t make clear what the consumer preference was based upon.

In a statement, Clorox said it would “discontinue the current advertising” and review the decision to implement changes in future ads. Omnicom Group’s DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, created the ad, and the company’s OMD Worldwide, San Francisco, handles media planning and buying. Spokespeople for Clorox could not immediately be reached for comment.

New-product focus
Bathroom cleaning, perhaps the most unpleasant household chore, has become one of the biggest new-product focuses for the household products industry in recent years.

Besides the toilet brushes, marketers have launched new products and categories such as automatic toilet cleaner/air freshener combos and Clorox’s line of bathroom products with Teflon. Clorox is also launching a spin-off of the Toilet Wand, Clorox Bath Wand for cleaning beyond the toilet, this spring, competing with Procter & Gamble Co.’s Mr. Clean Magic Reach.

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