BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Examines Schering-Plough Claim For Claritin ‘rediTabs’ Following Challenge By McNeil Consumer Healthcare

New York, NY – April 28, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Schering-Plough, maker of the over-the-counter allergy medication Claritin “RediTabs,” discontinue broadcast advertising that features high-speed raceway images.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined broadcast advertising for the product following a challenge by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the maker of competing OTC allergy medications.

NAD examined the following express claim:

  • Claritin RediTabs are the “fastest dissolving allergy medicine.”
  • Super: “Speed of dissolution does not imply speed of relief.

Further, NAD considered whether the racecar imagery and narration in the commercial imply that Claritin RediTabs OTC provides the fastest relief of allergy symptoms. 

The challenged advertising features NASCAR racecars running a track as Carl Edwards, a well-known NASCAR driver, appears and explains that “speed is important” to him and that when his allergies hit, he uses Claritin RediTabs, “the fastest dissolving allergy medicine.”  A super that states “Speed of dissolution does not imply speed of relief” appears simultaneously on the screen. 

The racecars continue to speed around the track as Edwards describes RediTabs, stating “just touch it to your tongue and like magic it’s gone.”

The commercial then features an image a RediTab dissolving and closes with Mr. Edwards stating “there’s no better way to live Claritin Clear,” as a thin film peels away to reveal a clearer image of Mr. Edwards.

Following its review of the evidence, including a consumer perception survey provided by the challenger, NAD determined one reasonable takeaway from the commercial is that RediTabs provides very fast or instantaneous relief of allergy symptoms in comparison to competing allergy medicines. Further, NAD determined that the disclosure “Speed of dissolution does not imply speed of relief” contradicted, rather than limited, the main message of very fast or instantaneous allergy relief.

NAD noted in its decision that Claritin RediTabs’ rapid dissolution is a valuable product attribute for some consumers that the advertiser should be free to tout.

However, NAD noted, consumers who take allergy medications are all seeking speedy relief of allergy symptoms.  The racecar imagery evokes speed and Mr. Edwards’ statement that speed is important to him suggests that what matters is not only how quickly the medicine dissolves but also how quickly it relieves his symptoms.

NAD recommended that the commercial be permanently discontinued and that future advertising avoid imagery and claims that imply that Claritin RediTabs provide very fast or instantaneous allergy relief. 

Schering-Plough, in its advertiser’s statement, said it that while the company did not intend to convey a claim of instant relief, it “greatly respects NAD and the NAD process and will take this decision into account in crafting its future advertisements.”