National Advertising Division Recommends Goli Nutrition Modify or Discontinue Various Claims for Ashwagandha Gummies
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New York, NY – May 25, 2022 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Goli Nutrition Inc. modify its advertising to avoid conveying challenged implied product efficacy claims for its Ashwagandha Gummies dietary supplement and modify or discontinue a qualified claim about the ability of the ingredient KSM-66 Ashwagandha Root Extract* to affect physical performance. If modified, the claim should include material information about the state of the evidence.
NAD determined that challenged implied messages concerning the limited duration of Goli’s sales were not misleading, however, it recommended modification of the advertising to avoid the misleading implied message that there is limited availability for its Ashwagandha Gummies. NAD also concluded that Goli’s influencer advertising does not convey any of the challenged implied messages relating to material connections.
Further, NAD recommended that Goli discontinue:
- Unqualified efficacy claims that the Ashwagandha Gummies product provides sexual function benefits;
- Claims that the ingredients in Ashwagandha Gummies, KSM-66 Ashwagandha, and vitamin D, are clinically proven to provide weight loss and weight management benefits;
- Establishment claims about the ability of KSM-66 Ashwagandha to improve sexual function;
- The claim “Ashwagandha = Nature’s Aphrodisiac!”
- The claim that “Ashwagandha . . . has been shown to increase testosterone levels, sperm motility and sperm count in men”; and
- Establishment claims about the ability of KSM-66 Ashwagandha to improve physical endurance, strength, muscle size, and overall physical performance.
The claims, which appeared in social media advertising, targeted email advertising, and Goli’s Ashwagandha Gummies product website, were challenged by Church & Dwight Co., Inc. (CHD), the manufacturer of competing gummy vitamins Vitafusion.
During the proceeding, the advertiser agreed to permanently discontinue several challenged express and implied product performance claims. Therefore, NAD did not review these claims on the merits. In addition, NAD declined to retain jurisdiction over certain product claims that are the subject of pending federal litigation.
Weight Loss and Weight Management Claims
After considering the evidence provided by the advertiser to determine if it had provided competent and reliable scientific evidence to support claims that the ingredients in Ashwagandha Gummies are clinically proven to provide weight loss and weight management benefits, NAD concluded that the advertiser had not provided sufficient competent and reliable scientific evidence to support its claims.
NAD expressed concern with several methodological flaws in the advertiser’s study on KSM-66 Ashwagandha that undermined the reliability of the results. NAD also found the results of this study, and the advertiser’s vitamin D studies, to be a poor fit for the challenged weight loss and weight maintenance claims.
Therefore, NAD recommended that Goli discontinue the establishment claims:
- “KSM-66® Ashwagandha, plus vitamin D are clinically proven to help support weight management.”
- “KSM-66® Ashwagandha has been clinically proven to…Reduce and maintain healthy body weight.”
- “Research shows that by lowering cortisol levels, KSM-66® Ashwagandha can help reduce stress-related food cravings and weight gain.”
Sexual Function Claims
In the absence of any testing on the product itself, NAD determined that the advertiser lacked a reasonable basis for unqualified claims that the product provides the challenged benefits. Thus, NAD recommended that Goli discontinue the following efficacy claims for the product:
- “Supports Sexual Health in Both Men and Women.”
- “Did you know that many women experience sexual dysfunction with orgasm disorders and sexual difficulties? That’s why Goli Nutrition created Ashwagandha Gummies, made with KSM-66® Ashwagandha, the World’s Most Powerful Ashwagandha root extract!”
Further, NAD determined that studies provided by the advertiser did not support its strong establishment claims about the ability of KSM-66 Ashwagandha to improve sexual function in both men and women. NAD found that although the advertiser’s studies bore many of the indicia of a well-conducted study, there were certain flaws that rendered the studies a poor fit for the challenged claims.
Consequently, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the following establishment claims:
- “KSM-66® Ashwagandha has been clinically proven to help improve sexual function.”
- “Ashwagandha…has been shown to…improve sexual function and arousal in healthy women.”
NAD noted that its recommendation does not prevent the advertiser from making a qualified claim that is more closely aligned with the limited nature of its supporting study (i.e., ashwagandha may help improve some symptoms of sexual function in women suffering from sexual dysfunction).
NAD determined that the advertiser’s claim “Ashwagandha = Nature’s Aphrodisiac!” was not puffery, but rather, in context a reasonable consumer would take away the message that ashwagandha could increase sexual desire. The advertiser did not provide NAD with support for the conveyed message that ashwagandha is an effective aphrodisiac. Therefore, NAD recommended that the claim be discontinued.
Regarding the claim that “Ashwagandha . . . has been shown to increase testosterone levels, sperm motility, and sperm count in men,” which is narrower than the general sexual wellness and function claims, NAD determined that the advertiser’s evidence did not support the challenged claim. Therefore, NAD recommended that the claim be discontinued.
Physical Performance Claims
NAD found that each of the challenged physical performance claims were establishment claims and as such the advertiser must provide the level of support communicated by the claim. After reviewing the studies, as well as the expert statements submitted by the advertiser and the challenger, NAD determined that the advertiser’s evidence did not support the establishment claim.
NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the establishment claims:
- “KSM-66® Ashwagandha has been clinically proven to…help support physical endurance, strength, and muscle size.”
- “KSM-66® Ashwagandha, plus vitamin D are clinically proven to help: Improve Physical Performance.”
- “Goli Ashwa Gummies are made with KSM-66® Ashwagandha, clinically proven to help Increase Muscle Size in Men.”
Regarding the qualified claim, “Studies have also shown that KSM-66® Ashwagandha could improve muscle size and strength as well as supporting natural testosterone production,” NAD recommended that the claim be modified to indicate that the studies were preliminary in nature and the results were limited to certain populations (i.e., healthy, athletic consumers). If not modified, the advertiser should discontinue the claim.
Given the lack of product testing evidence in the record, NAD concluded that the challenged implied claims regarding the Ashwagandha Gummies product efficacy were unsupported. Therefore, NAD recommended that Goli modify its advertising to avoid conveying the challenged implied product efficacy claims, including:
- Goli Ashwagandha Gummies support weight loss and weight management, improve sexual function, and improve physical performance.
- Goli Ashwagandha Gummies’ purported benefits are achievable by the general U.S. population, without any meaningful changes in lifestyle.
- Taking Goli Ashwagandha Gummies will result in the purported benefits Goli claims are attributable to KSM-66® Ashwagandha.
- Taking Goli Ashwagandha Gummies will quickly result in meaningful weight loss without the need for special diet or exercise.
- Taking Goli Ashwagandha Gummies will result in meaningful weight loss in all consumers.
- Taking Goli Ashwagandha Gummies will treat or cure female orgasm disorders.
- Taking Goli Ashwagandha Gummies will treat or cure male fertility disorders.
- Taking Goli Ashwagandha Gummies will support physical performance, endurance, and muscle size regardless of an individual’s physical condition or fitness level.
- Taking Goli Ashwagandha Gummies will result in meaningful endurance and physical performance benefits without the need for special diet or exercise.
- Taking Goli Ashwagandha Gummies will increase muscle size without the need for special diet or exercise.
Regarding the challenged sales claims, NAD determined that the challenged implied messages concerning the limited duration of Goli’s sales were not misleading. NAD found that although Goli’s sales are quite frequent, they do not amount to a continuous sale, particularly because the discounts appear to change frequently.
However, NAD determined that Goli’s use of phrases such as “limited supply remaining” and “supplies limited” convey the implied message that the products are currently in limited supply. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its advertising to avoid this misleading implied message.
Finally, NAD concluded that Goli’s advertising does not convey the challenged implied messages that:
- Influencers discussing Goli on social media are expressing their honestly held beliefs, findings, and opinions without any material connection with Goli.
- Influencers discussing Goli on social media do so solely out of a desire to share their positive experiences with the product.
In its advertiser statement, Goli stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations” although noted that it “disagrees with certain aspects of the NAD’s decision.” The advertiser also stated that it “intends to make further voluntary changes to its advertising which will provide greater clarity to consumers regarding the benefits of the ingredients in Goli’s ashwagandha gummies, consistent with the evidence-based science.”
All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.
*Ixoreal Biomed, manufacturer of KSM-66® Ashwagandha, was not a party to NAD’s proceeding and did not participate in the defense of the Advertiser’s claims.
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