Following a challenge by S.C. Johnson, maker of the Ziploc line of storage and freezer bags, the NAD determined certain quantified claims made by Hefty about its Slider bags were relevant to consumers but not adequately substantiated. The NAD evaluated claims made by Hefty that its Slider bags have a “2X stronger seal than Ziploc® bags,” stay secure when “shaken, dropped stacked,” and are secure for many uses including “juicy fruits and vegetables,” “sauces and stews,” “travel items” and “bags of ice.” The NAD concluded that Hefty’s “2X Stronger Seal” claim did not convey any comparative freshness or air leakage claims, but instead referred to the strength of the closing mechanism and its ability to prevent items from falling out of the bag in challenging situations. In reaching this conclusion, the NAD noted that it evaluated the overall net impression created by the advertisement, including both words and visual images, in reaching its conclusion. Specifically, the NAD noted the absence of any language mentioning freshness or air leakage. The NAD also determined that Hefty’s depiction of real life situations where a stronger seal may be necessary gave consumers a meaningful point of reference to interpret Hefty’s stronger performance claims. However, the NAD ultimately determined that, while Hefty could support a general comparative strength claim, it failed to adequately substantiate its quantified “2X stronger” claim. Specifically, the NAD concluded that the test relied upon by the advertiser for the “2X stronger” claim, which used a tensile testing machine to measure the force required to take the seal to failure (pursuant to an ASTM test method), was not consumer meaningful because the test did not reflect conditions that would be encountered in the real world. However, the advertiser also submitted results from a Shake Test, Drop Test and Stacking Test, which the NAD concluded more closely reflected real world conditions. The NAD determined that those test results, combined with the results of the ASTM test, supported a general comparative strength claim.
TIP: Comparative performance claims generally should be substantiated by testing that reflects how the product is used by consumers under real world conditions so as to be meaningful to consumers.