The Clorox Company (which makes Brita) lodged a complaint with the National Advertising Division, the ad industry's self-regulatory panel, complaining that ZeroWater's ad claims went too far. And the group agreed, concluding that the ads unfairly disparaged Brita.
At issue were television ads that put the two products side-by-side and noted that Zero Water uses more filters than Brita and the result of pouring tap water into each was clear water in the Zero and dirty water in the Brita. And the ad featured this phrase: "Think your water filter is good? Think again."
The advertising board did find that the ad accurately showed how ZeroWater removed all total dissolved solids from the water, but the panel said the company went too far in knocking down its more-established competitor.
"Given that the evidence in the record did not support the implied message that the challenger’s filter is not 'good' or not effective, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue this comparative demonstration and avoid conveying the falsely disparaging message that the challenger’s filter pitcher is generally ineffective or not 'good' at filtering water," according to the National Advertising Division.
Zero Water's parent company, Zero Technologies, objected to the finding.
"NAD has unfortunately struck the wrong balance between Zero's ability to communicate a truthful message, and its desire to protect Brita from hypothetical disparagement. NAD's recommendation effectively censors ZeroWater, as the new market entrant, from making a powerful and truthful comparison that conveys meaningful information about an undisputed performance advantage. We therefore respectfully appeal.”