Lawsuit Alleges P&G's Bounty Claims Are Misleading

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CINCINNATI ( -- A battle between the leading U.S. paper towel brands over a teaspoon's worth of liquid has spilled into court,
The exact absorbancy of Bounty and Brawny towels are the focus of the lawsuit.
where Georgia-Pacific Corp. claims an ad for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Bounty is misleading.

A lawsuit filed by G-P Sept. 30 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta seeks a preliminary injunction barring P&G from running its 30-second "Quicker Locker Upper" ad and related print ads, which broke in June, behind an improved version of Bounty, from Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide, New York. G-P also wants unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and an order forcing P&G to run ads correcting the alleged false impressions.

Tiny amount of liquid
P&G's ads include a side-by-side demo showing how Bounty locks in a spill that an unnamed "Next Leading Brand" lets drip back out. G-P acknowledges the demo is literally accurate for the 30-milliliter spill shown, but says Bounty might drip if the spill were only 1 milliliter bigger, while its own Brawny towels might not drip with a spill only 4 milliliters smaller -- a total difference of about a teaspoon.

"The overall effect," according to the complaint, "misleads the public about the absorption-retention properties of Brawny and Bounty." Bounty's advertised "New Bigger Quilts," the suit adds, have a 6% reduction in sheets per roll.

Following G-P's initial written complaint to P&G in July, P&G added a disclaimer to the ad noting that the towels in the demo are folded in quarters.

Fourth suit for P&G
Georgia-Pacific's suit is the fourth regarding ad claims that P&G has faced in the past year, including lawsuits from competitors Playtex Products, Kimberly-Clark Corp. and a joint venture between Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co.

A P&G spokeswoman said the ad is not misleading, adding that P&G hopes the matter can be resolved by referral to the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

A 30-milliliter spill is the typical size of P&G's consumer research, she said, adding: "Bounty is still a superior product regardless of the size of the spill."

Reduced sheet count
Bounty reduced sheet counts to be comparable to those on Brawny, she said, and because the brand hasn't increased prices in three years despite rising paper and energy costs. But she said the new product is more absorbent than the old one.

Georgia-Pacific plans to roll out its own improvement to Brawny by late this year.

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