Honest Co. Drops Ad Claims, Including Implication That Rivals Are Unsafe, Amid Challenge

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The Honest Co. has discontinued some ad claims for its diapers and baby wipes -- including the implication that rival brands are unsafe -- amid a challenge from rival Kimberly-Clark Corp., maker of Huggies before the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The NAD specifically recommended Honest Co. discontinue the description of its baby wipes as "super absorbent," while determining some other challenged claims either were supported by evidence or constituted puffery that isn't subject to legal restrictions.

Honest Co. voluntarily backed off some wording in its advertising during the challenge before the U.S. advertising industry's self-regulatory authority. Those included testimonials implying that rival products are unsafe without making specific allegations.

According to an NAD report today, Honest Co. said during the proceedings that rather than offer substantiating evidence, it would permanently discontinue consumer testimonials about comparative safety and performance of Honest products and stop using the words "safer" and "broader" in connection with Honest diapers. The company also said it would eliminate the word "unsafe" in the statement: "Diapers, bottles and other baby essentials don't have to be boring. And they absolutely shouldn't be unsafe."

Honest Co. also agreed to stop using such claims as "superior absorbency" and "exceptional absorbency, softness" used on packaging for its diapers on Amazon.com, and claims that its wipes were "now even larger, thicker and more absorbent."

But NAD concluded claims that Honest products were "ultra thick," "ultra soft" or "unbeatable" constituted non-actionable puffery.

Honest Co. said in a statement provided by the NAD that it would comply with the decision although it "respectfully disagrees" with the determination regarding the "super-absorbent" claim, which already had been discontinued.

The fast-growing brand backed by actress Jessica Alba has faced issues in the past year, including reports by The Wall Street Journal that some of its products contain sudsing agent sodium lauryl sulfate despite claims that they don't. The newspaper reported in September that Honest Co. will reformulate some of its products next year.

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