Ruling on soup ad favors Progresso claim

by Jeff Gelski
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NEW YORK — General Mills, Inc. may support the advertising claim “Now Even Better” for reformulated varieties of the company’s Progresso Light Soup, according to a Feb. 9 determination by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., had challenged the advertising claim by arguing consumers could infer General Mills was comparing its new light soups to either a prior version of the product itself or to a competitive soup brand. Campbell also said General Mills should be required to tell consumers the specific improvements in the product.

Minneapolis-based General Mills presented to the N.A.D. that it had increased the size of chicken pieces in five flavors of soup, increased the amount of vegetables in two flavors, improved the quality of beef in one flavor and decreased the amount of sodium in five flavors. The N.A.D. determined the meaning of the phrase “Now Even Better!” was a reference to previous versions of Progresso Light soups and that General Mills had provided sufficient evidence to support the claim.

In August of 2009, the N.A.D., the advertising agency’s self-regulatory forum, upheld a challenge from Campbell and recommended General Mills discontinue a comparative advertising campaign. Advertising claims in print and on the Internet stated “Campbell’s has 95 soups with MSG” and “Progresso has 26 soups with no MSG.” The N.A.D. said consumers may take away inaccurate messages from the advertisement, including that Campbell’s soups are more likely to have MSG (monosodium glutamate) than Progresso soups, or that most Campbell’s varieties have MSG or a greater percentage of Campbell’s soups than Progresso soups have MSG.

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