NAD Finds Certain Maty’s Cough Products Claims Supported; Recommends Modification or Discontinuation of Others
For Immediate Release
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs
703.247.9330 / firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY – August 18, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Maty’s Healthy Products, LLC (Maty’s) properly supported certain online and packaging claims regarding the benefits of certain ingredients in its cough syrup dietary supplements, but recommended modification or discontinuation of other claims for the products themselves. The claims at issue were challenged by Zarbee’s Inc. (Zarbee’s), maker of competitive cough syrup products.
NAD determined that the advertiser’s evidence was insufficient to support claims about Maty’s cough syrups, because the advertiser did not submit any studies on the products themselves, and instead submitted studies on certain ingredients within the products. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue all challenged product claims. Because reliable and methodologically sound studies on the ingredients in a product may support qualified claims, NAD considered whether Maty’s had provided a reasonable basis for more limited, qualified claims.
Claim: “works to help soothe hacking cough”
NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for the soothing effect of its honey ingredient on coughs but recommended that the advertiser modify the claim to indicate that the claimed effect was attributable to the ingredient honey, and not the product as a whole.
Claim: “turns coughs due to dry irritated throats into zzz”
NAD determined that the claim was sufficiently limited to a specific message of cough relief and did not convey a broader message regarding the speed at which the cough relief was accomplished.
Further, the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for this claim based on the soothing effect of its honey ingredient on coughs.
Claim: “loosen troublesome mucus” and “works to . . . clear troublesome mucus due to dry, irritated throats”
NAD determined that the advertiser failed to establish that the amount of thyme contained in the product was sufficient to provide a therapeutic effect and recommended that these claims be discontinued.
Claim: “Compare our ingredients to other leading OTC brands”
NAD determined that this claim, when viewed in context, implies that the products being compared are similar or equivalent. In order to support such a message, the advertiser would need evidence that its products are similarly efficacious and safe as the compared OTC product, which was not found in the record. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim or modify it to clearly and conspicuously disclose material differences between the products being compared.
Claim: “we’re the better choice, and here’s why”
NAD found that a reasonable consumer is likely to interpret the claim as a broad message of superiority regarding all competing cough syrups, whether dietary supplements or OTC drugs. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim or modify it to limit the comparison being made to other dietary supplement cough syrup products.
Claim: “When modern medicine didn’t work … Maty’s mom create[d] pure, whole food-based alternatives”
As it appears in a standalone statement in the Amazon.com product description for Maty’s cough syrups, NAD determined that a reasonable consumer would understand the claim to mean that the specific Maty’s product being advertised was developed as an effective and superior treatment alternative to comparable drug products, an unsupported and potentially misleading claim.
NAD noted that this express claim challenged by Zarbee’s is a shortened version of the Maty’s origin story that entirely omits the salient nuances that the much longer narrative provides.
NAD recommended that the challenged standalone claim be discontinued but noted that the advertiser is not otherwise prevented from discussing the creation of Maty’s in its advertising.
The advertiser permanently discontinued a number of challenged claims, including:
- “feeling better should always be this simple”
“When your little one is sick, it’s snot funny. Give them a spoonful of Maty’s as needed.”
“All your essentials for when your kiddo is sick.”
“By using drug-free, whole food ingredients there are no side effects and no worries about taking too much”
“We Believe Food Can Be Your Medicine”
“[t]o help you feel better with no side effects or drug interactions”
“Pediatrician Recommended” / “Doctor Recommended”
“quickly calms cough”
“immune boosting ingredients”
“cough & cold”
“help prevent springtime allergies with our immune boosting Organic cough syrups”
“feel better in no time”
“better health and healing”
“helps ease common cold symptoms”
“great for . . . colds, allergies”
Therefore, NAD did not review these claims on the merits. However, NAD cautioned the advertiser that these voluntarily discontinued claims must be removed from all forms of advertising, whether it be print, online, or social media.
In its advertiser’s statement, Maty’s stated that will comply with NAD’s recommendations. The advertiser further stated that it “takes pride in offering organic and natural cough syrups made with whole-food ingredients that are safe and effective.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
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