BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Matrixx Discontinue Claims that Suggest ‘Zicam’ Products Protect Users from Catching Cold; Found Advertiser Could Support Certain Claims

New York, NY – April 5, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Matrixx Initiatives discontinue advertising claims that suggest its homeopathic Zicam Cold Remedy products prevent users from catching a cold.

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

In this case, advertising claims made on product packaging, in print, television and website advertising and on Facebook and Twitter were challenged by ProPhase Labs, Inc., maker of Cold-EEZE Zinc Cold Remedy homeopathic products.

Claims at issue were featured in an advertising campaign that depicted a “Cold Monster” and encouraged treatment with Zicam products at the “pre-cold” stage.

Claims included:

  • “The Pre-Cold Medicine.”
  • “Take Zicam Now And Go From Pre-Cold To No Cold, Faster.”
  • “clinically proven [to reduce the duration of a cold]”

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that all iterations of the advertiser’s “clinically proven [to reduce the duration of a cold]” claims – in television, print, Internet and other advertising media – clearly and conspicuously disclose  that the claim applies solely to its Zicam Rapid Melts, Chewables and Oral mist products.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the “clinically proven” claim in advertising featuring non-tested products and non-cold remedy products.

Given the context in which they appeared, NAD found that the claims “Pre-Cold Medicine” and “Go from Pre-Cold to No Cold Faster,” were unlikely to convey to consumers the message Zicam Cold Remedy products provide a prophylactic benefit.

However, NAD concluded that the claims such as “Don’t let a monster of a cold catch you” –in the context in which they appear in print advertisements and on the advertiser’s website – could be understood by consumers to mean either that they would not get a cold at all or that Zicam would reduce the severity of a cold – messages that were unsupported. NAD recommended that the claims be discontinued.

NAD was satisfied, however, that – in the context in which it appeared –  imagery of the “cold monster” was unlikely to convey the message that taking Zicam would reduce the severity of a cold.

NAD appreciated the advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance of the language “concentrated formula” from its Zicam ULTRA advertising and product packaging, an action that NAD deemed warranted under the circumstances of this case.

NAD found that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for use of descriptor “Ultra” for  Zicam products that contain more of the active ingredient per dosage unit than their non-ULTRA counterparts and require consumers to take fewer doses per day.

NAD further concluded that, absent consumer perception evidence to the contrary, the name Zicam ULTRA,” by itself, does not covey the message that these products are more effective than their non-ULTRA counterparts or other cold remedy products.

As for the advertiser’s “#1 Pharmacist Recommended” and, the “#1 Pharmacist Recommended Brand” claims, NAD appreciated that the advertiser has removed its “#1 Pharmacist Recommended” seal from its current advertising, an action that NAD deemed necessary and proper.

However, NAD recommended that the advertiser ensure that any use of “#1 Pharmacist Recommended” language clearly and conspicuously disclose that this rank was achieved in the “Homeopathic Cold Products” category, so as to avoid the implication that Zicam achieved this position within the “Cold Remedy” category — a ranking held by the challenger’s Cold-EEZE product.

Matrixx, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company acknowledges NAD’s concerns and has taken steps to addresses NAD’s recommendations.