BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Internet Order Modify, Discontinue Certain Advertising Claims for ‘Pimsleur Quick & Simple’ Foreign Language Program; Finds Company Can Support Certain Claims

New York, NY – May 16, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Internet Order, LLC, modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for the “Pimsleur Quick & Simple Language Courses,” including claims that may have conveyed the inaccurate message that consumers who use the courses will be able to speak a foreign language fluently in 10 days.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

NAD requested the advertiser provide substantiation for advertising claims that included:

  • “Learn a language in 10 days with Pimsleur.”
  •  “Discover how you can speak any language … In just 10 short days … Free from the computer … Free from memorization … and absolutely guaranteed.”
  •  “The World Leader in Audio-Based Language Learning.”
  •  “Use the Pimsleur Approach to speak a new language in only 10 days!”
  •  “Each CD has been scientifically sequenced to rapidly lock language materials into your brain after just one listen.”
  •  “You’ll absorb your new language effortlessly without any reading, writing or computer use.”

NAD noted in its decision that the advertising at issue made a variety of claims regarding a consumer’s ability to learn a language through use of a “Quick & Simple” audio course. Following its review, NAD found that the advertiser had established that consumers who followed the program – completing eight, 30-minute audio sessions over eight days – could expect to have learned enough to engage in basic conversations, i.e., to introduce themselves, inquire about the cost of a product, or the location of a restroom, hotel or restaurant and respond to pleasantries. Further, NAD determined that the advertiser could support claims that its language compact discs “have been scientifically sequenced to rapidly lock language material into your brain after just one listen” and that the company is the “world leader” in audio-based language courses.

However, the key issues before NAD were whether the advertising at issue overstated  the degree of language skill or fluency that consumers could expect upon completion of  eight audio lessons and understated the degree of effort required to be successful.

NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the claim “learn a language in 10 days” –wherever it appeared – to better disclose the basic, introductory level of language skill consumers could expect to achieve. Further NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the “no effort” claims, or modify the claims to avoid conveying the inaccurate message that the “Quick and Simple” program requires no effort at all.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said that it would take NAD’s recommendations into account “and has already begun clarifying its current advertising consistent with the NAD’s recommendations.”