Gillette should discontinue the use of the term “MoistureRich” both as a product name and as a descriptor in isolation as it conveys the misleading message that the “Gillette Venus ProSkin MoistureRich” women’s razor moisturizes while shaving, the National Advertising Division recently recommended.

Undisputed in the case was the fact that the Venus ProSkin MoistureRich razor does not moisturize during or after shaving. Rather, it features gel bars that contain moisturizers incorporated into the cartridge which obviate the need for shave cream.

Schick challenged Gillette’s “MoistureRich” ads and product packaging, arguing that it explicitly and implicitly claims the razor moisturizes the skin as it shaves. The company conducted a consumer perception study which found that 45.3 percent of respondents played back a moisturization message after reviewing the Gillette product packaging.

Dismissing Gillette’s arguments that the study was flawed, the NAD said it was both well-conducted and sufficiently reliable, adding that the 45.3 percent was a “significant proportion” of respondents, “considerably higher” than the threshold deemed sufficient.

Reviewing the totality of the Venus ProSkin’s advertising communications, the NAD said it was “troubling” that the term “MoistureRich” was used “prominently without reference to the gel bars or to describe that the moisture obviates the need for shave cream or that its purpose is to protect the skin via lubrication for a closer shave. Although Gillette argued that the advertising clearly links ‘MoistureRich’ with the shave gel bars, NAD determined that this argument is inconsistent with the product packaging claims [which] clearly convey the unsupported message that the [razor] conveys a moisturization benefit during the shave process beyond mere lubrication.”

“Context is everything,” the NAD emphasized. “Not only the context in which words and claims appear in advertisements or on product packaging, but the context of an ever-changing marketplace as well.” Although Gillette argued it had used the term “MoistureRich” since 1994, Schick subsequently introduced its Intuition Plus, a razor which lathers and provides moisturization, the NAD said. Gillette’s prior use of the term did “not shield the advertiser from providing a reasonable basis for the claims conveyed by its current advertising,” particularly in light of innovations in the industry.

The NAD said that Gillette could still use the “MoistureRich” term in context, i.e., referring to “MoistureRich Gel Bars” in body copy, but should be careful to avoid conveying the unsupported moisturization or hydration message.

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

Why it matters: While the NAD acknowledged the burden upon an advertiser when it recommends changes to a product name or descriptors, it cautioned advertisers that the self-regulatory body “may revisit and reconsider whether the meaning of words within an industry have changed over time or whether certain phrases may, over time, have become confusing – particularly where product innovations have changed the marketplace.”