CFBAI_ProgramBackgrounds_4-28-2020

National Advertising Division

The National Advertising Division (NAD) monitors national advertising in all media, enforces high standards of truth and accuracy, and efficiently resolves disputes to build consumer trust& and support fair competition. NAD reviews advertising based on challenges from businesses, complaints from consumers, or on its own initiative covering a wide variety of both industries and issues. NAD’s decisions represent the single largest body of advertising decisions in the United States.

Program Impact

NAD was established in 1971 to monitor and evaluate the truth and transparency of national advertising through a combination of independent monitoring and competitor disputes and has become a leading voice in providing guidance on truthful and transparent advertising and standards for substantiating advertising claims. Around 150 cases are handled each year through one of three tracks: Fast-Track SWIFT, Standard Track, and Complex Track. Reports of all case findings can be found in the BBB National Programs Online Archive

Truth & Transparency

Voluntary self-regulation helps create an honest and fair marketplace. Companies benefit from a level playing field and consumers benefit from a more trustworthy marketplace. A 90% participation rate demonstrates the depth of industry’s commitment to self-regulation and truth and transparency.

Issues We Examine

NAD’s legal team specializes in examining advertising claims for a diverse set of goods and services like telecommunications, infant nutrition, over-the-counter medication, and dietary supplements for a wide variety of issues from product efficacy to influencer marketing and the use of consumer reviews.

Time & Cost

The NAD process resolves advertising disputes efficiently and almost always faster than a court proceeding. There is no document discovery or depositions, no counterclaims, and the process requires less investment in time and cost than litigating a case.

Navigating Uncertainty

NAD has a published body of case precedent and is staffed by decision makers dedicated to resolving advertising disputes, using a process that provides advertisers the right to appeal adverse decisions to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

NAD Challenges

 

NAD offers three options for submitting challenges for review: Standard Track, Complex Track, and Fast-Track SWIFT. Click on the options below for more information on each track's process, challenge eligibility requirements, timeline, and fees to determine which track is best suited to handle your needs. BBB National Programs National Partners receive a discount on filing fees. 

 

 

Fast-Track SWIFT

Single-issue digital advertising cases with decisions in 20 business days. Learn More

Standard Track

Open to a variety of case types with decisions in four to six months. Learn More

Complex Track

Cases requiring complex substantiation. Time to decision is determined by the parties. Learn More

 

 

 

Why Use NAD for Advertising Challenges

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 will resolve my challenge most efficiently—federal court, Federal Trade Commission complaint, or NAD challenge?

The NAD process promotes truthful advertising resolving advertising disputes efficiently. Unless advertising is so misleading and causing sufficient harm that a temporary restraining order application will likely succeed, the NAD process is typically faster than a court proceeding.

 

 

  • How much will it cost?

 

Filing a challenge with NAD is almost always more cost effective than other options. There is no document discovery. There is no deposition. The matter cannot be delayed by filing counterclaims. Our streamlined process saves time and money.

 

 

  • What are the risks?

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. Our 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Policies & Procedures


Any company, consumer, or non-governmental organization can file a challenge with NAD. We handle about 150 cases each year and our decisions represent the single largest body of advertising decisions in the United States. The NAD | NARB Policies and Procedures describe the details and parameters of NAD's challenge review process.

News & Blog

NAD Finds Certain Claims for Dr. Ho’s Circulation Promoter Supported; Recommends Modification or Discontinuation of Others

For Immediate Release 
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs 
703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org 

New York, NY – September 15, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that VGH Solutions Inc. supported certain claims for Dr. Ho’s Circulation Promoter (“Circulation Promoter”) medical device consistent with the FDA’s approved indications of use and claims that the device is “safe.” However, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue establishment claims that the Circulation Promoter is “clinically tested” to improve circulation, relax muscles, and relieve pain, as well as a variety of health-related claims. In addition, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify other challenged claims to more accurately reflect the FDA’s approved indications of use.  

The challenged claims were brought to NAD by Actegy Health, Inc., manufacturer of competing products. 

The following are representative of the challenged claims, which were made on the advertiser’s website, social media, and in various long-form advertisements, such as an infomercial featuring a host, a company representative, Dr. Michael Ho, a studio audience, and consumer and expert testimonials. 

Express Claims 

  • “Clinically Tested - Improves Circulation, Relax Muscles, Relieve Pain.” 
  • “No Risk” 


The Circulation Promoter can be used for: 

  • “Neuropathy/loss of sensation/suitable for damaged feet (ulcers/amputation)/device wakes the nerve up/restores the sensation” 
  • “Diabetes and other health conditions”
  • “Bad circulation” [chronic]
  • “after hip or knee replacements”
  • “Calf/foot injuries; bunions” 
  • “Sleep improvement” 
  • “Immediate Pain Relief/back pain/no pain/pain relief guaranteed/in 20 minutes” 


The Circulation Promoter can: 

  • Provide healthier tissue and decreased pain 
  • “activate the arteries, vein and lymphatic system”
  • “reduce swelling and water retention”
  • Enable the user to “Walk better; stand better; everything is working better; relief from damage to your spine and joints”
  • Help you to “Live a more active life” 


Implied Claims
 

The Circulation Promoter: 

  • Is “safe” and without side effects 
  • Will cure various conditions (“Stop wasting time with endless appointments”)
  • Will cure or significantly improve debilitating conditions (“Live a more active life”)
  • Will restore users from chronic debilitating conditions (“You don’t need anybody; you get your independence back”) 


Expert Endorsement

  • Dr. Ho’s name implies that he is a medical expert with respect to circulation/cardiovascular disease. Three other doctors provide expert opinions and do not declare they are chiropractors. 


In support of its claims that the Circulation Promoter is “clinically tested” to improve circulation, relax muscles, and relieve pain, the advertiser relied on a 2005 study conducted by Dr. McGill on the “High-Intensity Modulating TENS” device. NAD evaluated the methodology of this study and determined that it does not constitute competent and reliable evidence to support a “clinically tested” claim. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claims that the Circulation Promoter is “Clinically Tested. Improves Circulation” and “Clinically Tested - Improves Circulation, Relax Muscles, Relieve Pain.” 

NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue the following health-related challenged claims: 

  • Circulation and oxygenation claims 
  • Unqualified pain elimination and relief claims, as well as claims communicating that the device delivers immediate pain relief and 20-minute pain relief
  • Neuropathy/loss of sensation claims
  • Provide healthier tissue and decreased pain
  • Arteries, veins and lymphatic system claims
  • Swelling and water retention claims
  • The on-screen super “use after hip or knee replacements”
  • The claim “it can treat conditions like arthritis and bunions”
  • The claim it can enable the user to “walk better; stand better; everything is working better; relief from damage to your spine and joints”
  • The claims “stop wasting time with endless appointments” and “live a more active life” 


NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from making claims approved in the FDA’s 510(k) clearance. NAD also recommended modification of the following challenged claims, so they are more narrowly tailored to reflect the FDA’s approved indications of use: 

  • The claim “anyone with painful foot conditions – first thing in the morning want to use this. Bunions, arthritis in the feet – you want to use this” 
  • The claim that the product treats “calf injuries” and “foot injuries” 
  • Sleep improvement claims 
    • NAD also recommended that the advertiser avoid communicating the message that the product provides sufficient pain relief to allow for meaningful sleep improvements 


NAD determined that the claim “you don’t need anybody; you get your independence back. You don’t need your friends and family to help you,” in context, conveys the message that the device can be used at home and administered by the individual user (without assistance from a doctor) and is not misleading.  

NAD determined that to the extent that the advertiser did not provide a reasonable basis for certain challenged claims, any such claims made by the expert endorsers must also be discontinued. However, NAD found that the chiropractors’ endorsements of the Circulation Promoter with regard to pain relief are not misleading. The advertiser presented evidence sufficient for NAD to conclude that chiropractic care is a well-accepted method to address back pain, and pain in the arms, leg, and neck and that chiropractors are experts in the relevant field of pain management. 

With regard to the claim of “no risk,” which was made in connection with a 90-day money back guarantee, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the “no risk” claim and modify its disclosure to make it abundantly clear that customers must pay for shipping and will receive a refund of the purchase price only. 

NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its claims that the device is “safe.” NAD also determined that Dr. Tabrizi’s statement that “this unit is very safe,” is not likely to convey the misleading message that there are no potential side effects, but simply that the Circulation Promoter is safe to use. 

Finally, during the proceeding, the advertiser voluntarily and permanently discontinued the following claims, so NAD did not review these claims on their merits: 

  • Website Testimonial “I had really, really bad circulation in my legs, swollen, burning and there was uncomfort [sic] for working, for walking.” 
  • Dr-Ho: “. . . it can get seriously infected. You need to use this because if you cut your feet and it gets infected you can lose a toe, lose a foot, a leg and even your life. . ..” 
  • Website: Diabetic Nerve Damage – Testimonial “. . . I suffer nerve damage in my feet and some in my legs.”  


In its advertiser’s statement, VGH Solutions stated that it “will take into consideration the NAD decision and modify its marketing claims to comply with the decision.” 

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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.     

Blog

All About SWIFT: Resolving Straightforward Ad Disputes in a Matter of Weeks

On May 13, Laura Brett, VP of our National Advertising Division (NAD) joined Loeb & Loeb’s David Mallen to discuss the new Fast-Track SWIFT process. The SWIFT process has been officially launched and the NAD team has begun processing claims.
Read more
 

 

 

Upcoming Events

CARU Conference: Virtual Series

Why Diversity and Inclusion is Good for Business: This presentation will cover why a workplace culture that supports diversity is the key to garnering unique ideas that just may be the next big thing. ...
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Nov 17, 2020 Virtual

Kidvertising 101

Kidvertising 101 is a two-day seminar that provides advertisers, marketers, and legal counsel with an interactive masterclass on ‘kidvertising’ that includes actionable guidance to help you or your cl ...
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Nov 18, 2020 Virtual
 

 

 

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