BBB National Programs Archive
Ross Products, Nestle Take Part in NAD Forum
New York, NY – January 12 , 2007 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. has recommended that Ross Products, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, discontinue certain advertising claims for Isomil Advance, an infant formula. Advertising for Isomil Advance was challenged by Nestlé USA, Inc., the maker of the Good Start brand of infant formulas.
NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined product packaging, print and Internet advertising directed at consumers and medical professionals.
Claims at issue included:
- “Yippee, Mom, my tummy feels better already! It’s only been three days since you switched to Similac® Isomil® Advance® formula. I’m so happy I could sing, if I knew any real words. That other formula made me such a crybaby, all gassy and uncomfortable. Now I’m back to my strong, happy baby self! And Similac Isomil Advance has DHA and ARA, so it’s not just good for my tummy, it’s good for my brain. You know what, Mom? You made today the happiest day of my whole life.”
- “Go from crying, gassy, and spitting up to smiley, happy, and satisfied in about 3 days. Compliments of Isomil® Advance®.”
- “Clinical evidence supports that switching to Isomil Advance will reduce fussiness and spit-up in most babies in 3 days.”
- “Clinical evidence supports that switching to Isomil Advance will provide most babies a substantial reduction in fussiness, gas and spit-up in 3 days.”
- “No other formula has been shown to relieve [baby’s] symptoms faster.”
NAD examined evidence that included a 10-year-old study of a previous formulation of Isomil Advance and competing formulas. Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the study was insufficient to support the claims at issue.
While NAD determined that the test subjects were of a proper age and that they were enrolled based on pediatrician’s recommendations for a formula switch, NAD concluded that, on the whole, the study was flawed and therefore insufficient to support the strong performance claims in the advertisements directed to consumers as well as to medical professionals.
Specifically, NAD found the study:
- Did not test the advertised product;
- Studied symptoms more severe than those highlighted in the advertisements and that are not representative of “most babies.”
- Did not test competing brands despite specific references to some of them in professional advertisements.
- Used scores based on a grouping together of many symptoms to support the performance claim related to specific symptoms (fussiness, spit-up and vomiting), with no evidence of statistically significant results for the individual symptoms.
Ross Products, in its advertiser’s statement, said it disagrees with NAD’s finding that Ross’ double blind clinical trial provides insufficient proof to support its advertising claims for Isomil Advance.
“Nevertheless, because Ross respects the NAD and the self-regulatory process, it will follow NAD’s specific recommendations in future advertising,” the company said.