Gillette should modify or discontinue claims for its Fusion ProGlide Razors, the National Advertising Division recommended regarding a challenge brought by competitor Schick.

Challenged claims included “Fusion ProGlide has been engineered with Gillette’s thinnest blades ever so it glides for less tug and pull” and “New Gillette Fusion ProGlide turns shaving into gliding with thinner blades for less tug and pull* and an effortless glide (*leading blades vs. Fusion).”

Gillette argued that the “leading blades” claim referred to the first four blades of the Fusion ProGlide, which contains five blades. The “leading blades” term is used in patent filings, Gillette said, and was not misleading to consumers.

But the NAD disagreed.

“NAD determined that all of the advertisements reasonably convey the message that all of the blades in ProGlide are Gillette’s thinnest (and thinner than the leading product), not simply the first four blades,” the panel said, noting that some of the print and Internet ads included a circle around all five blades, reinforcing its conclusion. Consumers do not typically read patent documents, the NAD noted, and would not be familiar with the meaning of the term “leading blades.”

NAD therefore recommended that Gillette modify its “leading blades” claim “to make clear that it is referring only to the first four blades in its cartridge.”

The NAD also addressed the issue of whether the phrase “leading blades” could be understood by consumers to mean “leading product” in the performance claim.

The language in the ads does not make clear whether the “leading” product is a Gillette product, i.e., the Fusion, or a competitor’s product, the NAD said. After reviewing the Nielsen market share data for razors, the panel determined that for the relevant time period Fusion was not the leading brand. NAD stated: “Further, given that [the Schick] Hydro was also a leading product at certain time points, the advertiser would need to provide testing comparing the thinness of its blades as against those of Hydro. The record makes clear that the advertiser failed to provide such testing.”

Gillette should “make clear that the basis of comparison is to its Fusion razor to avoid any unsupported product performance comparisons as to competing razors,” the NAD said.

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

Why it matters: “In the absence of consumer perception evidence, NAD uses its expertise to determine the express and implied messages reasonably conveyed in an advertisement,” the panel said.