BBB National Programs Archive

National Advertising Review Board Finds Matrixx Claims for Zicam Don’t Mislead Consumers

New York, NY – August 21, 2013 – The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has determined that certain claims made by Matrixx Initiatives for its Zicam Cold Remedy products would not reasonably be understood to mean that use of the products prevents colds.

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

ProPhase Labs, Inc., initially challenged several advertising claims for Zicam before the National Advertising Division, an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation.

NAD recommended Matrixx discontinue certain claims, which the company agreed to do.

NAD found, however, that two claims – “The Pre-Cold Medicine” and “Go from Pre-Cold to No Cold Faster” – would not reasonably be understood by consumers to mean that Zicam Cold Remedy products prevent consumers from getting a cold.

ProPhase appealed NAD’s finding to the NARB. An NARB panel heard arguments from both Matrixx Initiatives and ProPhase Labs, Inc., the maker of Cold-EEZE Zinc Cold Remedy homeopathic products.

NARB noted in its decision that neither party provided consumer-perception evidence.

In the absence of such evidence, the panel must place itself in the shoes of consumers to determine – after analyzing the context and overall net impression of the challenged advertising – what messages are reasonably conveyed.

The challenged references to “Pre-Cold” and “The Pre-Cold Medicine” appeared on product packaging and in print, television and website advertising. Because context is important, the panel noted, each advertising media must be considered separately

Following its review, the panel found that the challenged references, as used in the context of the challenged advertising, did not reasonably convey a message that Zicam is effective in preventing colds or should be used by consumers for that purpose.

Matrixx, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “appreciated the panel’s thoughtful review of the appeal of the NAD’s findings regarding Matrixx’s use of “Pre-Cold” and “the Pre-Cold Medicine” in its advertising, and thanks the panel and staff for the time and attention they devoted to it.”