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This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

BAIN DE SOLEIL ALL-DAY SUNSCREEN PERFORMANCE CLAIMS ARE SUBSTANTIATED by Procter & Gamble, according to a case report released by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Bureaus (NAD) on June 10. However, Procter & Gamble has agreed to modify a comparative reference to other sunscreens used in its Bain de Soleil advertising campaign if it chooses to make comparative claims in future ads, NAD said. NAD's inquiry initially focused on a discontinued magazine ad for Bain de Soleil Sport Lotion sunscreen, which was brought to NAD's attention by a consumer. NAD then proceeded to review similiar claims as they were used in spring 1993 radio and television ads for the product, now renamed Bain de Soleil All Day sunscreen. The ad agency of record is New York-based Ayer, Inc. NAD stated that "based on a review of the materials sent by the advertiser, NAD agrees that the product performance and efficacy claims for Bain de Soleil All Day are substantiated. NAD also agrees that the advertising clearly positions the product as a sunburn protector, and that in light of the product's UV absorption performance, there are no material omissions of fact regarding UVA protection." However, NAD questioned some of the company's comparative claims. Specifically, the group cited statements in a radio ad that "other sunscreens claim to last 80 minutes, which means as soon as you're getting comfortable, it's time to stop and rub more sunscreen." NAD also challenged a TV ad that stated: "So one application protects you all day. [Superimposed: Six hours] Through water. Through sweat. Throughout the day. Instead of the 80 minutes other sunscreens may last." NAD said it believes that the "80 minutes" claim as used in the ads "would be understood to mean 80 minutes overall rather than the technical 'waterproof' claim of 80 minutes in water, as stated on the labels," and thus would possibly mislead consumers. Protection of 80 minutes in water is the minimum length of time necessary to make a waterproof claim under the FDA proposed monograph for OTC sunscreens. NAD stated that "it is NAD's judgment that the copy in [the radio ad] on its face clearly is not talking about water and should be revised." NAD further recommended that "the television [ad] be modified so that the competitive copy uses the same standard for each product to give a more accurate indication of the extent of superior performance of one product to the other(s)." In addition, NAD recommended that the copy be changed to include a modifier in order to avoid an unintended exclusivity claim that the "other sunscreens" referred to means "all other sunscreens." Commenting on NAD's conclusions, P&G said it is "pleased to learn that the NAD has found all Bain de Soleil product efficacy claims to be wholly substantiated. P&G does not agree, however, with the NAD's determination that two variations of a comparative claim about the efficacy of other sunscreens need to be modified." The company added, however, that "the advertising in question was withdrawn during the challenge for reasons completely unrelated to this matter. If P&G chooses to make similar comparative claims in the future, then NAD's decision will be taken into account and the claims modified." The consumer who had challenged the ad criticized the six hour/all day efficacy claim on the basis of her understanding of the SPF ratings, NAD said. Her understanding was that the highest effective protection rating is SPF 15 and that each protection "factor" represents 20 minutes of protection. Therefore, she asserted that an SPF 15 would only protect for five hours and not six, as claimed. The challenger also claimed that the ad omitted important facts relevant to overall protection from the sun. She said that while the product protects from UVB rays, it does not "control harmful UVA rays which are predominant in sunlight and result in damaging photoaging," and that the failure to disclose such a limitation could be harmful to consumers. Data submitted by P&G to substantiate the claims included: 1) an explanation of the SPF system as outlined in the proposed monograph for OTC sunscreens; 2) a description of both monograph- mandated and original testing performed by P&G to support the efficacy claims; and 3) a chart of the various amounts of UVA and UVB radiation absorbed by the product along the entire wavelength spectrum. The company additionally sent examples of competitive labeling claims to show that many other sunscreens either claim or suggest that protection may last only up to 80 minutes in water. Among the original studies submitted by P&G was a test designed to evaluate typical sunscreen usage over the course of a six-hour day at the beach. Conducted by an independent lab, 41 white adults representing the three different skin types required in the monograph were monitored over the course of six midday hours on hot, sunny July 1, 1992 at Singer Island, Fla. According to P&G, the test showed that "one application of [Bain de Soleil] All Day SPF 15 provides most users, including those with fair skin, a full six hour day of sunburn protection. This test also proves that the product's waterproof, towelproof and sweatproof characteristics last an entire six-hour day. To our knowledge, we are the first company to successfully subject a sunscreen product to such demanding procedures."

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