National Advertising Division (NAD)


For the health and safety of our National Advertising Division (NAD) stakeholders, all NAD Fast-Track SWIFT filings should be filed through our online portal and Standard NAD filings should be submitted by email until further notice.

Opening a Challenge: Please email Laura Brett, lbrett@bbbnp.org, and Sheryl Harris, sharris@bbbnp.org, with your opening letter, exhibits, and the challenged advertising. If you have recently (after March 9th) submitted a filing by mail, please email Laura Brett.

Large Files: Please contact us directly if any files related to your filing are too large to submit via email and we will make alternate arrangements.

Filing Fees: You will be provided an invoice and information on submitting payments electronically.

Meetings: All meetings will move forward as scheduled and be held by video or telephone conference. The attorney assigned to the matter will contact you to set up meeting logistics.

 

Fast, Fair, Professional

The National Advertising Division monitors national advertising in all media, enforcing high standards of truth and accuracy. NAD examines advertising claims made for goods and services as diverse and critical as telecommunications, infant nutrition, over-the-counter medication and dietary supplements and on a wide variety of issues including clinically proven or efficacy claims, environmental, “green” or natural claims, product demonstrations, the use of endorsements or influencer marketing (including their disclosures), consumer reviews or sponsored content. NAD accepts complaints from consumers, competing advertisers and local Better Business Bureaus. NAD’s decisions represent the single largest body of advertising decisions in the United States.

 

Challenges to advertising can be brought as a standard challenge or through  Fast-Track SWIFT. Parties to standard challenges can dispute the truth and accuracy of advertising involving a single claim or multiple claims and present evidence and argument in up to two submissions with a resolution in about 4-6 months.  Fast-Track SWIFT challenges are designed to resolve complaints about a single well-defined advertising issue quickly and efficiently. Qualified challenges submitted through the Fast-Track SWIFT process are resolved within a month. 

 

In addition to its own monitoring, NAD resolves competitor disputes in a forum dedicated to reviewing advertising disputes. NAD handles about 150 cases each year and publicly reports its formal decisions.

 

The Practical Advantages of the NAD Process

  • Time to decision: The NAD process promotes truthful advertising resolving advertising disputes efficiently.    Unless advertising is so misleading and causing sufficient harm that a temporary restraining order (TRO) application will likely succeed, the NAD process is almost always faster than a court proceeding.
  • Procedural costs: The NAD process will always be less burdensome. There is no document discovery or depositions. The matter cannot be delayed by filing counterclaims and requires less investment in costs and time than litigating a case.  National partners pay a discounted filing fee.
  • Navigating uncertainty: Because NAD has a published body of case precedent and is staffed by decision makers dedicated to resolving advertising disputes, the outcome is more predictable than a court proceeding where individual judges have crowded dockets of a wide array of cases and different decision-making styles.  All NAD decisions are available in the searchable Online Archive. National partners can purchase an archive subscription at a discounted price. The procedures provide advertisers with an automatic right to appeal adverse decisions to the self-regulatory system’s peer review body, the National Advertising Review Board. NARB is comprised of 70 members from across the advertising industry. Appeals are heard by five-member panels. 

 

How to File a Challenge Before NAD

No special form is needed to bring advertising to NAD’s attention.

Put the query or complaint in writing.

Enclose originals or photocopies of newspaper, magazine, or social media ads. If the advertising was on radio or television, be specific about the name of the product and company, the claims at issue, and where and when (e.g. what program) the advertisement appeared.

All challenges, including any supporting documentation, must be submitted in duplicate hard copy and in an electronic format (including evidentiary exhibits when possible.) To help ensure a timely review, challengers should strive to limit the length of their submissions to 20 double-spaced typewritten pages (excluding evidentiary exhibits) and limit the number of issues raised in a challenge to those that are the most significant.

All challenges made by companies and/or competitors shall be filed together with a check (see below for amount), made payable to the BBB National Programs, Inc., as a filing fee.

The filing fee shall be accompanied by a statement indicating the category into which the challenger’s revenues fall. In the case of a challenge filed by a subsidiary, the filing fee is determined by the gross annual revenue of the parent company.

If a case is opened but subsequently closed administratively for any reason other than consent of the parties pursuant to Section 2.2(E), fifty percent of the filing fee will be refunded.

Starting January 2020, we are making changes to the filing fees that support strong and effective self-regulation. Beginning on January 1st, the following price structure will go into effect: 

  • Under $250M - $10,000 (New Category)
  • National Partner - $25,000
  • Under $5B - $30,000
  • Over $5B - $35,000
  • NARB - $25,000

This filing fee change creates a new category, the under $250 million category, to encourage participation from small businesses and strengthen industry self-regulation.  Filing fee waivers or partial waivers are still available if economic hardship is demonstrated. 

In 2020 look for process improvements that will make filing challenges more efficient to meet industry needs.  We will be introducing a new online submission process as well as creating new tracks for faster resolution of NAD challenges -- investments which will increase the speed and efficiency of the process. We look forward to sharing more information about process improvements with you in the coming months. 

To learn more about the process, please contact NAD at nad@bbbnp.org.

Challenging a Competitor’s Claims

When a competitor’s advertising harms consumer trust or threatens a company’s reputation and market share, decision makers need to answer three key questions:

  • Which forum – federal court, network clearance process, Federal Trade Commission complaint or NAD challenge – will produce the fastest result?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What are the risks?