Sunscreen that you can trust: Verifying SPF to mitigate bogus claims


  • Family Health


  • Advisory
  • Issues and Crisis Management
  • Building Alliances
  • Amplification

Scope: USA

The Opportunity
Every year at the start of summer, consumer tests of sunscreens were done and results released to the media, gaining nationwide tier one coverage. The methods used for the consumer testing differed from the testing that the company, whose products pioneered SPF testing, used. Despite discussions with the testing groups to explain the methods every year, the reports used the consumer-testing method and eroded the reputation of brands that used quality-controlled tests.

The Solution
We were able to resolve this for the company and the brands using a 3-step process: 1) Engaged the consumer testing group again to explain SPF testing methodology and that we were planning to verify our testing methods. 2) Undertook verification with AccountAbility, a third-party assurance firm, who verified the SPF testing of the brands. 3) Amplified the AccountAbility report prior to the summer season in an initiative-taking step to assure consumers of the SPF values on their products. The project had benefits beyond building the brand’s reputation as an expert and preventing consumer confusion—it also helped to mitigate legal risk to the brand arising from the previous misreporting of SPF values.


Sunscreen and accountability: How well do it work? (