"World’s Best Glass Cleaner” Claim Found To Be Puffery

S.C. Johnson recently brought a challenge before the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (“NAD”) claiming the phrase “World’s Best Glass Cleaner” claim on PLZ Aeroscience’s (“PLZ”) “Sprayway” glass cleaning product packaging was unsubstantiated. NAD is the leading self-regulatory body scrutinizing national advertising campaigns.

Initially, S.C. Johnson challenged two phrases: “World’s Best Glass Cleaner” and “Made in the USA.” Rather than submit substantiation for its “Made in the USA” claim, PLZ opted to permanently discontinue that claim.

In the course of the challenge, both parties submitted consumer perception surveys testing what message is reasonably conveyed by the claim “World’s Best Glass Cleaner.” NAD, however, declined to accept the results of either parties’ consumer survey and stepped into the shoes of the consumer and determined for itself that the claim was puffery which NAD defines as “a fanciful or exaggerated statement about the product, rather than an objectively provable claim.”

In this matter, NAD found that the appearance of “World’s Best” in small font next to the larger “Glass Cleaner,” combined with a nostalgic image of a 1950’s styled woman in an apron was an exaggerated display of the advertiser’s pride in its product – puffery – rather than an objectively provable fact requiring testing against its competitors worldwide as substantiation.

Takeaway: What constitutes puffery is “more art than science.” NAD evaluates “whether the use of a superlative is vague and fanciful with no objective measure of superiority or whether it refers to specific attributes which are likely to suggest that product is comparatively better in some recognizable or measurable way.” An exaggerated display of the advertiser’s pride in its product with no objective claim of superiority is mere puffery.

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