BBB National Programs Archive
NAD Recommends Discontinuance Of Performance, Speed-Of-Action And Pediatrician Recommended Claims For Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water
New York, NY – March 27, 2019 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Mommy’s Bliss, Inc. discontinue all of its performance claims, speed-of-action claims, pediatrician-recommended and “First in the U.S.” claims for its Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water product, following a challenge by Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., maker of a competing gripe water product.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The challenged claims included, but were not limited to:
- “Works quickly”
- “fast acting-works in minutes” for fussiness and stomach discomfort
- “… crafted to make [babies] feel better almost immediately”
- “Gripe Water has been a complete game changer for us! Without fail, a few minutes after giving him a serving, he is calm and can either lie by himself, take a nap, or eat.”
- “Very First in the U.S.”
- “Pediatrician recommended” and “Recommended by Pediatricians Nationwide”
- Mommy’s Bliss’s Gripe Water products provide nearly instant relief from crying and stomach discomfort in babies.
The challenger argued that the false and misleading nature of the advertiser’s speed-of-action claims are elevated given the target market of desperate (and sleep-deprived) consumers seeking quick relief for their babies during the fragile infancy period. The challenger asserted that substantiation of speed-of-action claims for relief from health-related issues requires competent and reliable scientific evidence—evidence that the advertiser failed to provide. The challenger also objected to the claim that Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water is the “Very First in the U.S.” and argued that the claim that Mommy’s Bliss products are “pediatrician recommended” is unsupported.
The advertiser stated that it possesses overwhelming anecdotal support for its speed-of-action claims. Further, as concerns its “Very First in the U.S.” claim, according to the advertiser, Mommy’s Bliss introduced its gripe water product in 1999 and contended that its product was the very first gripe water manufactured, marketed, and distributed nationwide in the United States. It further stated that a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s application database for the word “gripe” returned 76 results, many of which have nothing to do with gripe water. Lastly, the advertiser defended its “Recommended by Pediatricians” claim, stating that it was based on an independent expert panel of four pediatricians who were not paid or under a contractual agreement to endorse the products.
The challenged speed-of-action claims center on the advertised product’s ability to substantially reduce or even eliminate colic symptoms with immediacy, which is a particularly meaningful product benefit for parents who are frantically searching for a solution to their infants’ gastric distress. However, NAD has routinely determined that the anecdotal experiences of individual consumers—such as those conveyed by the consumer emails, Amazon.com reviews, and social media commentary relied upon by the advertiser—are insufficient support for product performance claims absent a showing that the experience of the individual consumers is representative of the experience of consumers generally with the product. In fact, NAD noted, the FTC has provided clear guidance that “consumer endorsements themselves are not competent and reliable scientific evidence” and that when consumer testimonials are used in advertising they must be substantiated by reliable testing on the product. The advertiser provided no such evidence.
Although the advertiser asserted that the ingredients in Mommy’s Bliss have long been recognized and used to help relieve stomach discomfort symptoms in babies, maintain digestive function, neutralize stomach acid, etc. it did not provide NAD with any evidence supporting this argument or evidence documenting the extent and manner of historical use of its ingredients. It also did not provide any evidence that the product it is marketing is consistent with the product as traditionally administered.
Consequently, NAD concluded that the advertiser’s performance and speed of action claims were without a reasonable basis and recommended that these claims be discontinued.
NAD further determined that one message reasonably conveyed by the challenged advertising is that the Mommy’s Bliss is the first gripe water product of any kind to be sold in the United States. NAD found that the information provided by the advertiser failed to support the conveyed message. First, the evidence provided was not a good fit for the claim in that it only related to the sale of gripe water products that did not contain sucrose or petroleum by-products and that were distributed by American companies. The express claim, however, is not limited to a particular type of gripe water that lacks certain ingredients or to products manufactured or sold by a U.S. company. Further, NAD concluded, the trademark registration and summarized search results provided by the advertiser from the U.S. PTO’s database was insufficiently reliable to support the claim that Mommy’s Bliss was the first gripe water offered for sale in the United States.
Lastly, NAD noted that “doctor recommended” claims must be supported by well-conducted physician surveys in which doctors—here, specifically pediatricians—base their conclusions on their actual experience and what they actually recommend in their daily practice. No such survey evidence was provided by the advertiser. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims, “Pediatrician Recommended” and “Recommended by Pediatricians Nationwide.”
Mommy’s Bliss agreed to comply with NAD’s recommendations
Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.