P&G Pulls 'Misleading' Bounty Campaign

26 January 2004

Procter & Gamble is pulling an ad campaign for its Bounty paper towels after losing a legal tussle with rival Georgia-Pacific.

GP is the owner of Brawny, a rival to Bounty, and last year took P&G to court over what it claimed was false advertising [WAMN: 15-Oct-03]. The offending commercial showed Bounty holding 30ml of water while an unnamed rival (in fact Brawny) spilt the same amount.

Although it did not dispute the accuracy of this demonstration, GP contended that Bounty might not hold all the liquid if the spill were just 1ml bigger, whereas Brawny would not drip if it were 4ml smaller. In light of such tiny differences, the company claimed, the ads misled the public about the two towels' powers of absorption.

The dispute went to a private arbitration panel, which has decided that the demonstrations were not adequate guides to the brands' performance. This ruling cannot be appealed.

As a result, P&G will pull Bounty's TV, print and radio ads, created by Publicis Worldwide in New York. It will also pay Georgia-Pacific's legal costs, though it does not have to run ads refuting its earlier campaign (a measure GP had requested).

Nevertheless, the war of words between the two firms shows no signs of stopping. Following the ruling, GP declared that the panel had found the disputed ads to be "literally false"; P&G then retorted that the arbitrators had still agreed that Bounty was better than Brawny.

And now P&G is consulting its lawyers about a national newspaper insert from GP that claims Brawny is 40% more absorbent than its rival, despite being 20% smaller.

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff