NAD recommends modification of Clearblue Easy Digital ad claims

NEW YORK — The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus last week recommended that SPD Swiss Precision Diagnostics, manufacturer of the Clearblue Easy Digital home pregnancy test, modify its advertising to clarify to consumers that the test only delivers completely “certain” results on or after the day of a consumer’s expected menstrual period.

The implied advertising claim was challenged before NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, by Church & Dwight, maker of First Response and Answer pregnancy test kits.

C&D charged that the claim in question was made in 15- and 30-second broadcast advertisements of Clearblue Easy Digital, and communicated the message that CBE Digital will provide completely “certain” results, regardless of whether a consumer uses the product on the day of her expected menstrual period or during the four-day episode prior to that menstrual period.

NAD noted in its decision that, according to both parties, advertising for at-home pregnancy test kits for many years primarily has focused on the products’ capability to detect pregnancy early — several days before a woman misses her period. NAD determined that it would be reasonable to conclude that consumers generally have come to expect at-home pregnancy tests to detect pregnancy prior to the day of a missed period.

SPD countered that the challenged commercials make no claim, implied or otherwise, about the early detection capability of the product, and do not falsely communicate to consumers that the product’s results are “certain,” even when the test is used before a woman’s missed menstrual period.

“Consumers might interpret our commercial against a background of some information they have assimilated from the advertising of pregnancy test manufacturers collectively,” SPD said in its advertiser statement. “We are troubled that this may be penalizing SPD for the omissions of others, and we suggest that overcoming this problem of implied messaging requires all pregnancy test manufacturers to clearly and explicitly explain the trade-off in their advertising.”

SPD noted that it would take the NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising.