In a recent action between Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Resolve Carpet Cleaner products, and Bissell Homecare, NAD reviewed Reckitt’s challenged "#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand" claim.  Bissell argued that it, rather than Reckitt, is the market share leader for carpet cleaning products and that Reckitt’s claim is only true if "carpet cleaning brand" is limited to an overly narrow category of products.

NAD made a number of determinations in the case that provide guidance to advertisers seeking to make #1 claims for their products.  First, NAD found that, as used by Reckitt, its "#1 Brand" claim is a sales superiority claim, one that is "widely understood and accepted to mean that the advertised brand—not a specific product— enjoys the highest market share in its category."

To support such a claim, NAD found, unit sales are generally a better fit than dollar sales, especially where the price of products can influence a company’s ranking.  Reckitt provided such data.  

NAD also concluded that considering the "carpet cleaning brand" category in a manner consistent with how product manufacturers define this category (including carpet cleaning hand formulas, machine formulas and machines, but not vacuum cleaners), the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its "#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand" claim.

Although Bissell argued that Reckitt’s universe of "carpet cleaning brand" products was too narrow, NAD rejected that argument, finding that "in the context presented, consumers looking to ‘clean’ their carpets would not think of a conventional vacuum." Thus, NAD found that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its "#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand" claim.

Finally, NAD recommended that Reckitt modify its disclosure accompanying its "#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand" claim ("*Based on Nielsen data") to identify the time period for, and scope of, the claim—i.e., that it is based on units sales of its manual and machine formulas.

Case Report #6281.