BBB National Programs Archive


New York, NY – March 12, 2012 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Irwin Naturals discontinue certain claims for its “Doctor Developed Clear Pure Complexion” dietary supplement, including the claim that the product was “scientifically developed.” NAD found the advertiser could support certain claims, based on the supplements ingredients.


NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, monitors advertising claims all media. In this case, NAD reviewed advertising claims that appeared on product packaging, the advertiser’s website, print advertising, and retail customer websites selling the product.


Claims at issue included:


  • “Doctor developed powerful nutrition to promote healthy & vibrant skin.”
  • “Advanced pro-nutraceutical complex targets internal factors that influence problematic skin.”
  • “Clear Pure Complexion is a revolutionary skin-care product that addresses multiple internal factors that can lead to acne-prone skin.  This formula has been scientifically-developed to target the vital organs and systems of the body that directly affect skin health.”
  • “By promoting internal balance of the total body system, Clear Pure Complexion works from the inside-out to improve the health and appearance of your skin . . . so you look and feel your best again.”


NAD also examined whether the advertising at issue implied that the product, developed by Dr. NickBitz, a Naturopathic Doctor, and formulated with zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin B6, could treat or eliminate acne.


NAD has consistently held that the nature and extent of claims made by an advertiser should mirror the precision and specificity of the data relied on as substantiation.


NAD noted that  although the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) allows “structure function” claims – accompanied by required language – both the Federal Trade Commission and NAD require that all advertising claims relating to a product’s impact on human health be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.   When making an express claim of product performance, an advertiser must be able to demonstrate that its product, as formulated for sale, actively performs the function promised or provides the benefit claimed in the advertisement.


NAD recognizes that some general claims promising health benefits can be substantiated without clinical studies of the specific product in question.  However, the advertiser must still demonstrate that it is scientifically sound to draw conclusions from outside studies and data and apply them to the performance claimed by the advertised product.


In this case, while the advertiser provided numerous studies and reference articles on Clear Pure Complexion’s ingredients and their properties, there was no actual product testing in the record, and no direct evidence that the product itself would have the same effect as an individual ingredient alone.


Because it is not clear that the claims were based on testing of certain ingredients, rather than on the product itself, NAD concluded that the claims must be expressly qualified as ingredient claims.


Specifically, NAD recommended that the advertiser expressly qualify its claims to communicate to consumers that the ingredient zinc is effective in the manner described in the advertising; that vitamin A may be helpful in reducing acne in vitamin A deficient patients; and that vitamin B6 may be helpful in treating acne in vitamin B6 deficient patients.


NAD found that the advertiser’s evidence could, when considered collectively, provide a reasonable basis for the general claim that the Pro-Nutraceutical Complex contains ingredients that have been historically used in traditional medicine to “target internal factors that influence problematic skin.” NAD recommended the advertiser qualify its claims to communicate that context.


NAD determined that the advertiser could not support the claim “the formula has been scientifically-developed to target the vital organs and systems of the body that directly affect skin health,” and recommended the advertiser discontinue use of the phrase “scientifically-developed.”


The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it believes “a marketer should be able to make reasonable claims for the formula as a whole based on the fact that the formula contains ingredients that have been shown to be efficacious.


“Nevertheless, in the spirit of cooperation and support of the self-regulatory process, and despite the above-stated differences with certain findings, Irwin agrees to respond constructively and effectively to the recommendations contained in the NAD decision.”





NAD’s inquiry was conducted under NAD/CARU/NARB Procedures for the Voluntary Self-Regulation of National Advertising.  Details of the initial inquiry, NAD’s decision, and the advertiser’s response will be included in the next NAD/CARU Case Report.


About Advertising Industry Self-Regulation: The National Advertising Review Council (NARC) was formed in 1971. NARC establishes the policies and procedures for the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the CBBB’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) and the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP).


The NARC Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the American Advertising Federation, Inc. (AAF), American Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc., (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA), Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB), Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).  Its purpose is to foster truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation.


NAD, CARU and ERSP are the investigative arms of the advertising industry’s voluntary self-regulation program. Their casework results from competitive challenges from other advertisers, and also from self-monitoring traditional and new media. NARB, the appeals body, is a peer group from which ad-hoc panels are selected to adjudicate NAD/CARU cases that are not resolved at the NAD/CARU level. This unique, self-regulatory system is funded entirely by the business community; CARU is financed by the children’s advertising industry, while NAD/NARC/NARB’s primary source of funding is derived from membership fees paid to the CBBB. ERSP’s funding is derived from membership in the Electronic Retailing Association. For more information about advertising industry self-regulation, please visit