On January 29, 2016, NAD recommended that Church & Dwight, the maker of OxiClean White Revive, modify or discontinue various advertising claims conveying the message that chlorine bleach is damaging or “scary” if used on white garments. Church & Dwight Co., Inc. v. OxiClean White Revive, Case No. 5919 (Jan. 29, 2016). The NAD challenge was filed by competitor The Clorox Company, whose rival product is Clorox Regular Bleach. Clorox challenged several advertising claims, including:

  • Bleach is “scary.”
  • “We read the care labels on thousands of white garments and we were surprised they had this warning symbol which means do not use chlorine bleach.”
  • “Get the tough stains out without the worry of chlorine bleach.”
  • “Do not use Chlorine bleach.”
  • “Try OxiClean White Revive. The way clothes love to be whitened.”

Advertisements at Issue. Two television commercials were at issue in the NAD challenge. The first is the “Test Lab” commercial, in which an announcer in a white lab coat in the “OxiClean White Revive Stain Remover Laundry Lab” states, “We read the care labels on thousands of white garments” and “were surprised they had this warning symbol, which means do not use chlorine bleach.” A large amount of white clothes fall on the floor from the ceiling into a pile. The announcer then says that OxiClean White Revive is the clear choice, and concludes: “Get the tough stains out without the worry of chlorine bleach.”

The second challenged advertisement, the “Scary Bleach” commercial, begins by asking “Why is bleach so scary to clothes?” It shows a white shirt clutching the back of its owner. The commercial then states, “It’s right on the tag, don’t use chlorine bleach.” It then concludes, “Try OxiClean White Revive. The way clothes love to be whitened.”

Clorox argued that the message conveyed by these commercials is that chlorine bleach is both dangerous and not efficacious.

NAD’s Decision. NAD agreed with Clorox, and found that if Church & Dwight’s advertising conveys that bleach is “damaging or scary to white garments,” it must have a reasonable basis for the claims based on reliable testing demonstrating that chlorine bleach is damaging to the kinds of white garments depicted in the advertising. Since Church & Dwight did not have this evidence, NAD recommended that Church & Dwight discontinue the “Scary Bleach” commercial. NAD further recommended that Church & Dwight modify its “Test Lab” commercial to remove words like “worry” and “warning” when referring to the care labels on garments and to avoid conveying a message that chlorine bleach is damaging to white garments.