The National Advertising Division determined that General Mills can support the advertising claim “Now Even Better” as it is used on reformulated versions of Progresso Light Soups.

Competitor Campbell Soup Company challenged the claim, arguing that it was an unsubstantiated comparative superiority claim from which consumers could infer that General Mills was comparing its new light soup to a prior version of the same product or to a competitive soup brand, given the history of comparative advertising between the parties.

After General Mills reformulated 12 of its Progresso Light Soups – adding larger pieces of chicken and decreasing sodium levels, among other things – it added the “Now Even Better” claim to its labels. Campbell argued that the labels did not indicate what product the soups were “Now Even Better” than, and that consumers could reasonably infer that General Mills was comparing Progresso to other soup brands.

The NAD disagreed. “[T]he clear, plain meaning of the phrase ‘Now Even Better’ is an express reference to previous versions of Progresso Light Soups. The word ‘now’ invites consumers to make a temporal comparison between the current soup and its predecessor,” the NAD said, adding that the message is reinforced by the fact that the soup cans do not mention competitors, either expressly or by implication. The NAD also noted that it was unlikely an advertiser would make a claim like “Now Even Better” when making a comparative claim against a competitor, as it would suggest that the competitor was at one point better than the advertiser – and that the competitor produces a good, quality product.

To read the NAD’s press release, click here.

Why it matters: “A claim that a product is ‘better’ may be a comparative superiority claim or a monadic claim of product improvement depending on the context in which it appears,” the NAD emphasized. The NAD also dismissed Campbell’s argument that General Mills should be required to disclose the basis of improvement to the soup on the can labels, noting that nothing in the law requires advertisers to disclose the nature of a product improvement when it makes a “new and improved” claim.