NAD REVIEWS ADVERTISING FOR GERBER TODDLER PRODUCTS FINDS COMPANY CAN SUPPORT CERTAIN CLAIMS FOR ‘GRADUATES’ LINE, RECOMMENDS COMPANY MODIFY, DISCONTINUE CERTAIN CLAIMS
New York, New York – Jan. 17, 2012 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business
Bureaus has determined that Gerber Products Company can support certain advertising claims made
in broadcast and Internet advertising for its Gerber Graduate “Healthy Meals” and “Lil’ Entrees.”
However, NAD recommended the company modify or discontinue certain claims made for its “Fruit &
Veggie Melts,” a freeze-dried snack product, as well as claims related to the “natural” contents of the
products. NAD further recommended the advertiser modify claims related to the products’ “immune
The advertising at issue was challenged before NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum,
by Beech-Nut, a competing maker of baby foods.
The challenged claims include the following:
• “[o]nly Graduates Lil Entrees is designed just for toddlers”
• Gerber Graduates Healthy Meals are “[t]he only meals designed for preschoolers with protein
and a full serving of veggies.”
• Gerber’s Start Healthy/Stay Healthy nutrition system is a “unique and innovative approach to
feeding and nutrition, based on your child’s stage of development, from birth to preschool.”
• “*3 fruit/veggie servings per bag*. . . *One toddler serving is ¼ cup fruit/veggie. Each bag
has the equivalent of 3-1/4 cup fruit/veggie servings.”
• “NUTRIPROTECT—Nutrition for Healthy Growth & Natural Immune Support”
• “GRADUATES FRUIT & VEGGIE MELTS snacks are a great way to make every bit count by
providing vitamins A, C, & E for healthy growth and natural immune support.”
Following its review of the advertiser’s evidence, NAD determined that Gerber’s “unique and
innovative” claims were substantiated, along with two exclusivity claims: “[o]nly Graduates Lil’
Entrees is designed just for toddlers, with protein, grains, and a side of veggies. . . [o]f items in the
Baby Aisle”; and Gerber Graduates Healthy Meals are “[t]he only meals designed for preschoolers
with protein and a full serving of veggies.”
Turning to Gerber’s claims about its Fruit & Veggie Melts, NAD was satisfied that the advertiser
supported its characterization of the Melts as a “freeze-dried fruit and vegetable snack.”
NAD found, however, that the evidence in the record did not support the message conveyed by
Gerber’s television commercial for its Fruit & Veggie Melts. This commercial features a voiceover that
claims, “the Gerber generation is making their fruit and veggies disappear,” as whole fruits and
vegetables are shown to disappear into a bag of Melts.
NAD determined that the visual depiction, along with the accompanying voiceover, conveyed an
unsupported message that Gerber’s Melts were nutritionally equivalent to whole fruits and
vegetables and recommended that the advertiser discontinue the commercial. NAD further determined
that the evidence in the record did not support the claim that the advertised
products provided “natural” immune support – or that they are made from “100% natural fruit.”
NAD recommended that such “natural” claims be discontinued.
Finally, NAD reviewed the advertiser’s immunity claims, beginning with “Immune Health Quiz”
appearing on Gerber’s website. NAD determined that the quiz did not state or imply that Gerber’s
products would prevent illness or enhance immunity and NAD was not troubled by Gerber’s use of
the term “NUTRIPROTECT” to describe its blend of vitamins and nutrients.
However, NAD recommended that the advertiser should either discontinue its “immune support”
claim, or modify it by making clear that its immunity-related benefit relates to the products’ capacity
to ensure or maintain a healthy immune system by maintaining adequate levels of Vitamins A, C,
Gerber, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “is pleased to support the self-regulation
process and expects its competitors in this market to similarly support self-regulation and to follow
the recommendations NAD made in this decision.”
NAD’s inquiry was conducted under NAD/CARU/NARB Procedures for the Voluntary Self-Regulation of National Advertising. Details of the initial inquiry, NAD’s decision, and the advertiser’s response will be included in the next NAD/CARU Case Report.
About Advertising Industry Self-Regulation: The National Advertising Review Council (NARC) was formed in 1971. NARC establishes the policies and procedures for the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the CBBB’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) and the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP).
The NARC Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the American Advertising Federation, Inc. (AAF), American Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc., (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA), Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB), Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Its purpose is to foster truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation.
NAD, CARU and ERSP are the investigative arms of the advertising industry’s voluntary self-regulation program. Their casework results from competitive challenges from other advertisers, and also from self-monitoring traditional and new media. NARB, the appeals body, is a peer group from which ad-hoc panels are selected to adjudicate NAD/CARU cases that are not resolved at the NAD/CARU level. This unique, self-regulatory system is funded entirely by the business community; CARU is financed by the children’s advertising industry, while NAD/NARC/NARB’s primary source of funding is derived from membership fees paid to the CBBB. ERSP’s funding is derived from membership in the Electronic Retailing Association. For more information about advertising industry self-regulation, please visit www.narcpartners.org.