BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Refers Advertising for ‘Adams Flea & Tick Spot On’ to FTC, EPA for Review After Company Declines to Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims

New York, NY – Jan.  3, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has referred to the Federal Trade Commission and Environmental Protection Agency advertising claims made by Farnam Pet Products for its Adams Flea & Tick Spot On for Dogs. The company has declined to abide by NAD’s recommendations that it modify or discontinue certain advertising claims, including claims that the product “starts to kill fleas and ticks in 15 minutes.”

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

The claims at issue were initially challenged before NAD by FidoPharm, a subsidiary of Velcera, Inc. and maker of PetArmor, a competing product.

The active ingredients in Adams are pesticides regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In the underlying case, the advertiser argued that because the EPA approved the claim “starts to kill fleas and ticks in 15 minutes,” NAD should decline to exercise jurisdiction and defer to EPA’s expertise in reviewing the underlying scientific basis and approving each of them.

NAD noted in its initial decision, however, that in “determining whether to defer to a regulatory authority’s approval of claims, NAD considers the difference between the ‘approved’ claim and the challenged claim in express language, the context in which it appears, and the very significant differences between what was approved and the consumer advertisement in which the claim appears.”

“Deference to regulatory authority ‘is not automatic, and it never completely replaces the obligation of the self-regulation system to exercise its own sound discretion.’”

Following its review, NAD determined that the advertiser’s evidence demonstrated that Adams reaches full efficacy seven days after application and “starts to kill fleas and ticks in 15 minutes” after infestation on day 7 post-treatment.

NAD recommended that the advertiser either discontinue its claim that Adams “starts killing fleas and ticks in 15 minutes” or modify the claim to disclose the amount of time needed for Adams to reach full efficacy.

In this compliance case, NAD informed Farnam that to the extent it continues to claim (or request its retail partners to claim) that Adams Flea & Tick Spot On for Dogs “starts killing fleas and ticks in [within] 15 minutes” without disclosing the amount of time needed for the product to reach full efficacy, the claims do not comply with NAD’s initial decision and recommendations.

In response, Farnam stated that the EPA approved the claim without qualification and that the company was “not willing to discontinue or modify this EPA-approved claim as NAD recommends, absent further EPA” action.

NAD noted that it was disappointed that the advertiser refused to bring its advertising into compliance. Pursuant to the policies and procedures that govern advertising industry self-regulation, NAD has referred the matter to the FTC and EPA for possible law enforcement action.