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NAD to General Mills: No Soup Claims for You!

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The simmering war between Campbell Soup and General Mills over advertised claims about their competitors may cool down thanks to intervention from the advertising industry's self-governing body.

The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureaus has recommended that General Mills discontinue comparative advertising for its Progresso Soup brand that "communicated inaccurate messages regarding Campbell Soup and MSG [monosodium glutamate] content," according to a press release from NAD.

In particular, NAD took issue with a claim by Progresso in a print ad that "Campbell has 95 soups with MSG," while Progresso has "26 soups with no MSG." Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, created the ad.

While that claim is true, NAD ruled that it gives the impression that all Campbell soups have MSG and none of Progresso's do, which is not the case. NAD reasoned that the average consumer would falsely conclude that any Progresso soup is less likely to have MSG than a Campbell soup because of the ad.

Reps from Campbell and General Mills could not be reached. In NAD's release, it quotes General Mills' representatives as stating, the company "respectfully disagrees with NAD's finding that the claim conveys a misleading message to consumers about the percentage of soups in both product lines that do or do not contain MSG."

The advertising war between the two companies began last September (the start of soup season) when Campbell ran newspaper ad from BBDO, New York, showing Progresso's chicken noodle soup next to Campbell's Select Harvest. "Made with MSG," said the heading over the Progresso brand. "Made with TLC," read the headline over Campbell's can.

Progresso responded in October by running the ad that NAD took issue with.