BBB National Programs Archive

Procter & Gamble Pet Care, Hill’s Pet Nutrition Participate In NAD Forum

New York, NY – August 28, 2007 –  The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Procter & Gamble Pet Care, maker of Iams brand pet food, modify a “veterinarian recommended” claim that has appeared in broadcast, print and Internet advertising.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined advertising claims for Iams pet food pursuant to a challenge by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., maker of Hill’s Science Diet pet food. At issue in the NAD inquiry were the following express and implied claims:

Express Claim

  • “4 out of 5 vets recommend Iams to help dogs and cats live healthier, longer.” 

Implied Claim

  • Veterinarians Recommend Iams Products the Most Often of any Competing Brand

In reviewing the challenged advertising, NAD was mindful of the recent news events related to the product category.

The challenger argued that in the context of the advertisements at issue, P&G’s claims that 4 out of 5 veterinarians recommend Iam’s products to help pets “live healthier, longer” communicate the false comparative message that veterinarians recommend Iams specifically because it promotes superior health and longevity, compared to competing brands.

By dissecting the claim, placing the “4 out of 5” message in large block letters across the screen, and relegating the qualifying language to a barely legible super, one message conveyed to consumers is that “4 out of 5” vets most often recommend Iams over other competing brands of dog or cat food – a message NAD determined is not supported by the evidence in the record.

NAD examined evidence that included a consumer-perception study commissioned by the challenger and a survey of veterinarians, submitted by the advertiser. Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that Iams could support a narrowly drawn and properly qualified claim that “among the leading brands they recommend, 4 out of 5 vets recommend Iams pet food.” 

With respect to the “healthier and longer” part of the advertiser’s claim, however, NAD determined that claim conveyed an implied comparative message that was not supported by the evidence in the record and recommended it be discontinued. 

P&G Pet Care, in its advertiser’s statement, said it appreciates “NAD’s thoughtful review and reaffirms its support for the self-regulatory process.  We will take NAD’s recommendations into consideration when developing future advertising and support regarding veterinarians’ recommendations of P&G Pet Care pet food products.”