NAD Recommends that Young Living Essential Oils Discontinue “Therapeutic Grade” and Health-Related Claims for its Essential Oils; Advertiser to Appeal
For Immediate Release
New York, NY – July 22, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that Young Living Essential Oil, LC (Young Living) discontinue unsupported, health-related essential oil product claims of “therapeutic grade” and physical and/or mental health benefits, as these claims are unsupported. NAD also determined that certain challenged claims constitute permissible puffery which do not require substantiation. The claims at issue were challenged by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. Young Living said it will appeal NAD’s decision to the National Advertising Review Board.
NAD reviewed Young Living’s claim that its essential oils are “therapeutic” grade, and a range of specific claims that Young Living makes regarding the benefits of its oils. NAD determined that the claim of “therapeutic grade” conveys an unsupported message that the essential oils confer a beneficial healing physical or mental health effect on the body or mind. The advertiser argued that its “therapeutic grade” claim does not convey a medicinal or healing message, relying on the results of a consumer perception survey. After considering the survey methodology and results, NAD concluded that this survey was fundamentally flawed. NAD also considered the results of a consumer perception survey conducted by the challenger and determined that it was sufficiently reliable to demonstrate that Young Living’s “therapeutic grade” claim reasonably conveys a message that the essential oils provide a healthy or medicinal benefit, not simply a message of purity and quality. NAD came to a similar conclusion using its own expertise and judgment, noting that, at the very least, the reasonable consumer takeaway from this claim is that the oils provide some physical or mental benefit.
NAD noted that specific product testing, in the form of competent and reliable scientific evidence, is required as support for the advertiser’s specific health-related benefit claims. However, Young Living did not submit any studies conducted on its essential oils and did not make the requisite showing that the results of the studies relied upon can be reliably extrapolated to support the claims. This includes claims that the advertiser’s essential oils:
Will calm or relax consumers when applied or diffused, such as Dragon Time “can help promote feelings of stability and calm during occasional times of moodiness”;
Will help relieve consumers’ feelings of anxiety when applied (or diffused), such as Bergamot Oil “[m]ay help relieve tension during times of occasional stress”;
Will help consumers sleep, such as RC oil “May help support restful sleep” and other sleep related claims;
Will bring product users clarity, focus, or alertness when applied (or diffused) as directed, such as “Brain Power is a blend of essential oils . . . to promote a sense of clarity and focus when used aromatically”;
Can be used to treat symptoms associated with depression, such as Davana oil “boosts your positive outlook on life”; and
Will help consumers increase or maintain their energy levels when applied (or diffused) as directed, such as Peppermint “helps to maintain energy levels when applied topically.”
The advertiser agreed to permanently discontinue several claims that its essential oils and/or certain ingredients in the products:
Promote feelings of calm and relaxation
Help consumers sleep
Provide clarity, focus, and/or alertness
Improve consumers’ mood and increase their motivation
Therefore, NAD did not review these claims on their merits. NAD also determined that certain challenged claims constitute permissible puffery, which do not require substantiation.
In its advertiser’s statement, Young Living stated that it “disagrees with, and will appeal to NARB, NAD’s failure to credit valid survey data and published research in support of ‘therapeutic grade’ claims and claims that certain, carefully formulated products promote stability, calmness, relaxation, sleep, stress and tension relief, clarity, focus, energy, rational decision making, and alertness.”
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