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 Recommends S.C. Johnson Discontinue “Non-Toxic” Claim on Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner; Advertiser to Appeal to NARB

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Brett, Director, NAD, 212.705.0109 / lbrett@bbbnp.org

 

New York, NY – March 24, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (“NAD”) recommended that S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. (“SCJ”) discontinue the claim “non-toxic” on package labeling for its Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner, following a challenge by The Procter & Gamble Company (“P&G”), maker of household goods including Mr. Clean cleaning sprays. The advertiser has said it will appeal NAD’s findings to the National Advertising Review Board.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB National Programs’ self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

After considering the guidance offered by the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (“Green Guides”) and FTC precedent, NAD determined that the term “non-toxic,” as used on the label of Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner, reasonably conveys a message that the product will not harm people (including small children), common pets, or the environment. Importantly, NAD noted that a reasonable consumer’s understanding of the concept of “will not harm” is not limited to death, but also various types of temporary physical illness, such as vomiting, rash, and gastrointestinal upset.

NAD evaluated SCJ’s substantiation, noting that the applicable standard for the advertiser’s “non-toxic” claim, which is both a health-related claim and an environmental benefit claim, is competent and reliable scientific evidence. In support of its “non-toxic” claim, the advertiser provided NAD with results from a complex, four step Framework it developed in order to evaluate potential risk of harm posed by its product formula, as well as expert declarations and an independent assessment of the Framework. After careful review, NAD determined that such evidence was insufficient to support the message conveyed that this product will not harm humans and the environment, including household pets.

NAD noted that for the challenged product, the advertiser and its experts based their conclusions regarding the appropriateness of classifying these products as “non-toxic” on a series of mathematical calculations. NAD concluded that while the techniques used to theorize the risk of harm posed by these products may be reasonable for evaluating toxicity within academia and the toxicological industry, they, by themselves, do not comport with the level of evidence a consumer would expect the advertiser to have in support of the strong message conveyed by its “non-toxic” claim. Without evidence demonstrating the real-world effects of the product’s toxicity, NAD determined that even when viewing the Framework holistically, as urged by the advertiser, the evidence fell short of providing the conclusive assessment of toxicity necessary to support a “non-toxic” claim. Thus, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “non-toxic.”

In its advertiser’s statement, SCJ said that it “fundamentally disagrees” with NAD’s decision and will appeal NAD’s findings that the claim that Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner is “non-toxic” is not adequately substantiated. SCJ stated that it believes “NAD has created an unreasonable standard for ‘non-toxic’ claims that is not supported by the FTC or any other regulatory body.”  SCJ added that its “science-based substantiation meets and exceeds the FTC’s and NAD’s standard of competent and reliable scientific evidence, and is fully consistent with the FTC’s intent to permit companies to make ‘non-toxic’ claims based on ‘competent and reliable scientific evidence.’”

 

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About the National Advertising Division: National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation overseeing the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for truth and accuracy.

 

About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs fosters trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution and other programs. BBB National Programs is the home of industry self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs that include the National Advertising Division (NAD), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), BBB EU Privacy Shield, BBB AUTO LINE, Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), Children’s Confection Advertising Initiative (CCAI), Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), Digital Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program), and the Coalition for Better Advertising Dispute Resolution Program (CBA DRM). The programs are designed to resolve business issues and advance shared objectives by responding to marketplace concerns to create a better customer experience. To learn more about industry self-regulation, please visit: BBBNP.org.

Blog

Champions for Truth in Advertising

Today, the National Advertising Division (NAD) continues to carry the torch for truth-in-advertising. As the advertising landscape has evolved over the last 50 years, NAD has continued to adapt to new products, new industries, and new advertising media. Laura Brett, Vice President of NAD, and New York Office Lead for BBB National Programs discusses truth-in-advertising trends, hot topics, and issues that lie ahead.
Read more
Blog

After Seven Months, the Verdict is in: Fast-Track SWIFT is Fast and Fair

The National Advertising Division (NAD) Fast-Track SWIFT advertising challenge process launched seven months ago as a faster way to resolve single-issue cases. The process has kept its promise of fast and fair decisions. This blog covers lessons learned and best practices gathered by the NAD team since the launch of SWIFT.
Read more
 

 

 

Decisions

NAD Recommends S.C. Johnson Discontinue “Non-Toxic” Claim on Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner; Advertiser to Appeal to NARB

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Brett, Director, NAD, 212.705.0109 / lbrett@bbbnp.org

 

New York, NY – March 24, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (“NAD”) recommended that S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. (“SCJ”) discontinue the claim “non-toxic” on package labeling for its Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner, following a challenge by The Procter & Gamble Company (“P&G”), maker of household goods including Mr. Clean cleaning sprays. The advertiser has said it will appeal NAD’s findings to the National Advertising Review Board.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB National Programs’ self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

After considering the guidance offered by the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (“Green Guides”) and FTC precedent, NAD determined that the term “non-toxic,” as used on the label of Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner, reasonably conveys a message that the product will not harm people (including small children), common pets, or the environment. Importantly, NAD noted that a reasonable consumer’s understanding of the concept of “will not harm” is not limited to death, but also various types of temporary physical illness, such as vomiting, rash, and gastrointestinal upset.

NAD evaluated SCJ’s substantiation, noting that the applicable standard for the advertiser’s “non-toxic” claim, which is both a health-related claim and an environmental benefit claim, is competent and reliable scientific evidence. In support of its “non-toxic” claim, the advertiser provided NAD with results from a complex, four step Framework it developed in order to evaluate potential risk of harm posed by its product formula, as well as expert declarations and an independent assessment of the Framework. After careful review, NAD determined that such evidence was insufficient to support the message conveyed that this product will not harm humans and the environment, including household pets.

NAD noted that for the challenged product, the advertiser and its experts based their conclusions regarding the appropriateness of classifying these products as “non-toxic” on a series of mathematical calculations. NAD concluded that while the techniques used to theorize the risk of harm posed by these products may be reasonable for evaluating toxicity within academia and the toxicological industry, they, by themselves, do not comport with the level of evidence a consumer would expect the advertiser to have in support of the strong message conveyed by its “non-toxic” claim. Without evidence demonstrating the real-world effects of the product’s toxicity, NAD determined that even when viewing the Framework holistically, as urged by the advertiser, the evidence fell short of providing the conclusive assessment of toxicity necessary to support a “non-toxic” claim. Thus, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “non-toxic.”

In its advertiser’s statement, SCJ said that it “fundamentally disagrees” with NAD’s decision and will appeal NAD’s findings that the claim that Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner is “non-toxic” is not adequately substantiated. SCJ stated that it believes “NAD has created an unreasonable standard for ‘non-toxic’ claims that is not supported by the FTC or any other regulatory body.”  SCJ added that its “science-based substantiation meets and exceeds the FTC’s and NAD’s standard of competent and reliable scientific evidence, and is fully consistent with the FTC’s intent to permit companies to make ‘non-toxic’ claims based on ‘competent and reliable scientific evidence.’”

 

###

 

About the National Advertising Division: National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation overseeing the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for truth and accuracy.

 

About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs fosters trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution and other programs. BBB National Programs is the home of industry self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs that include the National Advertising Division (NAD), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), BBB EU Privacy Shield, BBB AUTO LINE, Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), Children’s Confection Advertising Initiative (CCAI), Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), Digital Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program), and the Coalition for Better Advertising Dispute Resolution Program (CBA DRM). The programs are designed to resolve business issues and advance shared objectives by responding to marketplace concerns to create a better customer experience. To learn more about industry self-regulation, please visit: BBBNP.org.

 

 

 

Upcoming Events

RE:formulate: Fermentation-Enabled Alternative Protein Innovation Summit

BBB National Programs Speaker: Alexander Goldman, Attorney, National Advertising Division
Learn more
Jan 28, 2021 Virtual

4th Annual Legal, Regulatory, and Compliance Forum on Advertising Claims Substantiation

BBB National Programs Speaker: Kathleen Dunnigan, Senior Attorney, National Advertising Division and Angela Tiffin, Senior Attorney, Children's Advertising Review Unit
Learn more
Feb 03, 2021 Virtual

Social Media and Mobile Devices 2021: Addressing Corporate Risks

BBB National Programs Speaker: La Toya Sutton, Attorney, National Advertising Division
Learn more
Feb 17, 2021 Virtual

Independent Beauty Association's Cosmetic/Technical Regulatory Forum

BBB National Programs Speaker: Annie Ugurlayan, Assistant Director, National Advertising Division
Learn more
Feb 24, 2021 Virtual
 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

 

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