BBB National Programs Archive

Slim-Fast Foods Company said it Has Permanently Discontinued Advertising Claims, Editorial Format Challenged by NAD

New York, NY – Dec. 12, 2016 – Slim-Fast Foods Company has advised NAD that advertising claims featured in “Star” magazine in a format that appeared to be editorial content have been discontinued.

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

As part of its routine monitoring program, NAD reviewed advertising claims for Slim-Fast Foods Company’s “Slim-Fast 100 Calories Snacks” and its “Slim Café Meal Replacement Drink.” NAD was concerned that the format in which the claims appeared blurred the line between editorial content and advertising in a way that could confuse consumers.

Specifically, the front cover of the magazine featured what appeared to be an article on weight loss that claimed, “Joann LOST 40 lbs” and “snack away the weight.”  The cover page referred readers to Page 46 of the magazine for a piece headlined “Snack Your Way to Slim,”  which told the stories of three women who “met their weight loss goals the easy way – by picking a plan that works and giving in to their cravings” and claiming Slim-Fast is the “superfast slim-down secret.”  Both the cover and interior piece were formatted as editorial content, although both were advertisements for Slim Fast products.

A second advertisement headlined “The Ultimate Coffee Break!  Kick-start your day and lose weight,” promoted Slim Fast’s high-protein meal replacement and, again, appeared to be editorial content.

The advertising at issue included objectively provable claims that Slim-Fast is “clinically backed” and “proven to lose weight and keep it off,” and that it is the “superfast slim-down secret!”

NAD noted in its decision that advertising claims like, “clinically backed” and “proven to lose weight and keep it off,” must be truthful and accurate.  Further, NAD noted that “advertising in a format that appears to be editorial has the potential to mislead or confuse consumers because consumers may attach a different weight or significance to editorial content than to pure advertising content.”

NAD said that it appreciated the advertiser’s agreement to permanently discontinue the challenged advertising and its use of this advertising format in future advertising.  In reliance on the advertiser’s representation that these advertisements and advertising format has been permanently discontinued, NAD did not review the claims on their merits.  The voluntarily discontinued advertising and advertising format will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended its discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

Slim-Fast, in its advertiser’s statement, said it “supports the efforts of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council and the NAD.  The specific advertising at issue has been permanently discontinued.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.