BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Reviews Advertising for Summit Vetpharm’s Vectra, Vectra 3D, Following Bayer Challenge

New York, New York – Oct. 21, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Summit VetPharm LLC modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for its Vectra and Vectra 3D flea protection products for dogs and cats. The company will appeal certain NAD findings to the National Advertising Review Board.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined the claims at issue following a challenge by Bayer HealthCare LLC, maker of the competing K9 Advantix and Advantage products. 

Claims at issue included:

  • Vectra kills 57.5% of fleas in 2 hours, 97.1% of fleas in 6 hours and 98.6% of fleas in 24 hours.
  • Vectra kills 72.7% of fleas in 2 hours (cats < 9 lbs), 38.5% of fleas in 2 hours (cats > 9 lbs), 99% of adult fleas within 6 hours, 100% within 12 hours
  • Vectra kills 34.1% of fleas within 2 hours, 98.7% within 6 hours, and 99.7% within 12 hours.
  • Vectra 3D kills 57.1% of fleas in 2 hours whereas challenger’s K9 Advantix kills only 14.2% in 2 hours

NAD examined claims made in a chart that state Vectra 3D is more effective than K9 Advantix at killing fleas within 6 hours, as well as the implied claim presented in a detailer for the Summit VetPharm Ectoparasitology Symposium:

  • Vectra 3D kills 98-100% of fleas within 6 hours, suggesting that a head-to-head study was conducted and found Advantage takes 12 hours to achieve similar efficacy.

NAD noted in its decision that it is aware that efficacy and speed-to-kill claims are particularly important claims to both consumers and veterinarians and appreciates “how important it is for advertisers to be able to distinguish their products from their competitors by touting any distinctive product attributes which provide benefits to consumers.”

Although noting that the degree of sophistication of the target audience is a factor in determining the reasonable message conveyed by the advertising, NAD stated that, even a sophisticated audience such as veterinarians is entitled to truthful and accurate messages with respect to the products they may recommend to their patients.

NAD noted that, “claims that expressly or implicitly disparage a competing product can damage that product’s market share and, therefore, NAD carefully scrutinizes such claims to ensure they are truthful, accurate, and narrowly drawn.”

NAD concluded that the Vectra Studies submitted by the advertiser were insufficiently reliable to support the advertiser’s establishment claims of comparative superior efficacy and speed to kill as compared to the challenger’s product and recommended that they be discontinued

NAD concluded that the Vectra Studies submitted by the advertiser provided reasonable basis for its non-comparative efficacy and speed-to-kill claims for its Vectra product in various charts directed to veterinary professionals – but only where the results are statistically significant.  NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims based on results that are not statistically significant.

With respect to the advertiser’s claims: (1) Vectra 3D kills 57.1% of the fleas in two hours whereas K9 Advantix kills only 14.2% in two hours; and Vectra kills 97.2% of fleas compared to 94.6% for K9 Advantix at six hours, NAD noted that the results of the studies upon which these claims are based were not statistically significant at the two or six hour mark.  Given the absence of any statistical or meaningful difference between the parties’ speed of kill performance, NAD recommended that these claims be discontinued. 

Finally, NAD recommended that the Ectoparasitology Symposium detailer chart conveying the unsupported message that Vectra 3D kills 98-100% of fleas within six hours as compared to twelve hours for Advantage, be discontinued.

Summit in its advertiser’s statement, said that while it appreciates NAD’s finding in regard to certain claims, NAD’s adverse findings “do not appropriately account for the sophistication of the target audience of veterinarians, and Summit will appeal these findings to the NARB.”