Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV ad seen in March 2018 for the sanitary protection product “Always Discreet”, featured a woman who stated, “I didn’t realise my bladder leak pad was bulky until I went for a bike ride. So I tried Always Discreet. I couldn’t believe the difference. It’s less bulky and it really protects. The super absorbent core turns liquid into gel to keep you feeling dry and comfortable …”.
The ad showed one scene featuring two separate piles of incontinence pads. One pile was identified as “The leading brand” and the other “always discreet”, and at the bottom of the screen was the text, “Always Discreet Long vs. leading brand Extra Pads”. Another scene showed a glass of purple liquid being poured onto the Always Discreet pad with on-screen text at the bottom stating, “waiting time 39 seconds”. The final scene of the ad showed the woman riding on a bicycle.
Essity UK Ltd, who believed that the ad made comparative claims regarding the performance of the advertised product with the leading brand of incontinence products, challenged whether:
1. they were misleading and could be substantiated; and
2. the comparative claims were verifiable.
1. & 2. Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd (P&G) stated that the only comparison made in the ad was the thinness of their Always Discreet pads and liners with the leading brand of incontinence products for women (Tena Lady), which the ASA had assessed in a previous investigation. P&G believed that the basis of that comparison was made clear in the scene which featured two separate piles of incontinence pads that were identified as “The leading brand” and “always discreet”. In that scene, the actress made the comment, “It’s [Always Discreet’s] less bulky” and at the bottom of the scene was the text “Always Discreet Long vs. leading brand Extra Pads”.
P&G stated that the ad did not compare the performance of their Always Discreet product with Tena Lady products, but rather demonstrated its capability of meeting consumer needs as a thinner sanitary protection product. They believed that was made clear in the ad’s demonstration of the capacity and speed of absorption of their Always Discreet product, but at no point was any reference made to the Tena Lady brand. Furthermore, P&G provided data which they believed demonstrated that their Always Discreet product met consumer needs. In a survey conducted on 137 women who used the Always Discreet product, 91% rated it as “Excellent/very good/good” for protection against leakage. Furthermore, 94% rated it as “Excellent/very good/good” for giving a dry feel.
Clearcast stated that they had seen adequate comparative evidence to support the claim that the Always Discreet product was “less bulky” than the leading brand.
1. Not upheld
The ASA understood that Essity UK Ltd were not disputing the ad’s comparative claim that the Always Discreet Long product was thinner (“less bulky”) in comparison with their Tena Lady range of sanitary protection products. Instead, they argued that the ad also compared the overall performance of the Always Discreet product with their Tena Lady range, suggesting that it was just as effective in dealing with incontinence, if not better.
We noted that the ad started with a scene showing a woman who stated, “I didn’t realise my bladder leak pad was bulky until I went for a bike ride. So I tried Always Discreet”. The ad then showed a scene featuring two separate piles of incontinence pads. One pile was identified as “The leading brand” and the other “always discreet”. We acknowledged that while the ad did not explicitly reference Tena Lady, we considered that consumers who required incontinence products would be familiar with the sector and understand the leading brand to be Tena Lady. Both piles each had five packs of the respective product laid on top of one another, and showed that the leading brand had a higher stack. The woman then stated, “I couldn’t believe the difference. It’s less bulky and it really protects.” We considered that consumers were likely to interpret that to mean that although the Always Discreet product was thinner compared to Tena Lady products, it was still capable of meeting consumers’ hygiene needs during incontinence; we did not consider consumers would interpret the claims to be a comparison between the sanitary performance of Always Discreet and Tena Lady products.
Towards the end of the ad was a scene, which showed liquid being poured onto the Always Discreet product with the on-screen text “waiting time 39 seconds”, and the woman stating, “The super absorbent core turns liquid into gel to keep you feeling dry and comfortable”. Although Essity UK Ltd believed that was a comparison with their brand regarding the speed of absorbency, we noted the scene was separate from the earlier scene which featured the comparative claim about thinness, and that the scene did not reference the leading brand’s waiting time. We therefore did not consider consumers would interpret the claim to be a comparative claim about the products’ performances, and would instead understand it to mean that Always Discreet was capable of maintaining personal hygiene during incontinence, with its absorption ability.
Because we considered that consumers would not interpret the ad to be a comparison between Always Discreet and Tena Lady’s sanitary performance, we considered that P&G did not need to provide evidence for such a comparison, and concluded that the ad was not misleading.
On that point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), 3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service. (Exaggeration) and 3.33 3.33 Advertisements that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, consumers about either the advertised product or service or the competing product or service. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors), but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
The BCAP Code required comparisons with identifiable competitors to be verifiable.
We noted that the ad included the claim that the advertised products were “less bulky” than that of their competitors and we considered that consumers would understand that to be a reference to Tena Lady. In addition we noted the smaller text at the bottom of the screen provided information about the name of the Tena Lady range with which the comparison had been made. The products were then shown on screen in piles of five, stacked side-by-side, from which it was clear that the advertised product was thinner.
We therefore considered that the simple nature of the “less bulky” comparison and the clear way it had been illustrated in the ad amounted to sufficient verification information for the audience to understand and check for themselves if they wished.
In addition, for the reasons given in point 1, we considered that consumers would not interpret the ad to be a comparison between Always Discreet and Tena Lady’s sanitary performance and for that reason it did not need to include verification of that.
On that point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 3.35 3.35 Advertisements must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products or services, which may include price. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.