BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Examines Bayer Claims in Two Separate Alka-Seltzer Commercials; Finds Claims Supported in One Case, Recommends Discontinuance in Second Case

New York, NY – Jan. 14, 2015 – Following a review of broadcast advertising by Bayer Consumer Care, the National Advertising Division has recommended that Bayer discontinue comparisons between its own Alka-Seltzer Plus Night Cold & Flu and The Procter & Gamble Company’s competing NyQuil Cold & Flu Liquid Gels.

Separately, NAD has determined that a commercial comparing Bayer’s Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough to P&G’s DayQuil Cold & Flu, conveyed the truthful and accurate message that Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough, which contains an antihistamine, treats a runny nose, while P&G’s DayQuil Cold and Flu does not.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Claims made by Bayer in broadcast advertising were challenged by P&G in two separate challenges.

In its decision regarding broadcast advertising for Alka-Seltzer Plus Night Cold – the “Cold Truth” commercial – NAD reviewed express and implied comparative performance claims, including:

  • “I have a cold, I took Nyquil, but I’m still stuffed up.”
  • ‘The truth is, Nyquil Cold & Flu Liquid Gels don’t unstuff your nose.”

NAD noted the advertiser compared its product, which includes a decongestant, with a dissimilar P&G product, even though P&G manufactures a product that is identical in formulation – NyQuil Severe Cold & Flu.

NAD noted that an advertiser can compare two dissimilar products even when there are more similar products made by the respective companies, as long as the objects of comparison are clearly identified and the advertising doesn’t imply that competing companies do not make more similar products.

In this case, NAD found that the advertising at issue could reasonably convey the message that the P&G’s NyQuil product line does not include a competing solid product with a decongestant. NAD recommended that the comparison featured in the commercial be discontinued.

Separately, NAD examined express and implied comparative performance claims made for Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough in broadcast advertising – the “Frozen Truth” commercial – including:

  • “DayQuil Cold & Flu doesn’t treat your runny nose.”
  • “Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough fights your worst symptoms, plus your runny nose.”

NAD determined that the commercial reasonably conveyed the message that Bayer’s Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough treats a runny nose, while P&G’s DayQuil Cold and Flu does not.  NAD concluded that the message was truthful and accurate, given that Bayer’s product contains an antihistamine and the P&G product does not.

Bayer Consumer Care, in separate advertiser’s statements, said the company disagreed with NAD’s findings regarding the “Cold Truth” commercial, but would take NAD’s decision into account in future advertising. Regarding NAD’s review of the “Frozen Truth” commercial, Bayer said that was pleased with NAD’s findings and wanted to “thank NAD and its staff for its professional handling of this matter.”