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).
 

For the last 50 years in the advertising industry, companies have held each other to a higher standard. In response to the pressures and criticisms of consumerism that had mounted during the previous decade, in 1971 the advertising industry established the National Advertising Division (NAD) and National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the U.S. mechanism of independent self-regulation that has stood the test of time and technological innovation.

 

Visit NAD50th.org

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.

 

 

 

 

 

NAD’s Monitoring Program

As part of its public interest mission to ensure consumers receive truthful and accurate advertising messages, NAD initiates approximately 20-25% of its cases each year based on its own monitoring of advertising in a wide variety of product categories. The goal of NAD’s monitoring cases is to expand the universe of advertising claims that are reviewed for truth and transparency and provide guidance for future advertising. In determining whether to open a monitoring case, NAD considers whether the advertising meets one or more of the following criteria:

 

  • Targets a vulnerable population (elderly, children, special needs, etc.);
  • Capitalizes on consumer fears or misunderstanding;
  • Fills a gap in regulatory efforts of the FTC and state AGs;
  • Addresses novel or emerging issue of interest for the advertising industry;
  • Concerns claims that consumers cannot evaluate for themselves;
  • Achieves diversity among industries that historically participate in self-regulation.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Vitamin Bounty Voluntarily Discontinues Social Media Posts for Elderberry Immune Support Following NAD Inquiry into Implied COVID-19 Messages

For Immediate Release 
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs 

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org  

New York, NY – October 13, 2020 – Following an inquiry by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, Vitamin Bounty/Matherson Organics, LLC (“Vitamin Bounty”) discontinued Instagram and Facebook social media posts for its Vitamin Bounty Elderberry Immune Support, which conveyed implied messages about boosting immunity to protect users against, or treat, COVID-19. 

Through its routine monitoring program, NAD challenged Vitamin Bounty’s Instagram post for Elderberry Immune Support with the text:  

  • “[a]s restrictions are gradually lifting, it’s more important than ever to keep your immune system strong. Our Elderberry Immune Support keeps you protected with vitamin C, zinc, elderberries, garlic and echinacea; a powerful immune-boosting combo.” 


Health and safety concerns are a top priority for NAD’s monitoring efforts, with particular attention currently focused on advertising for dietary supplements and other products claiming to treat COVID-19. NAD noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have both stated that there are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent COVID-19. Both the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued dozens of warning letters to companies making claims about their products’ ability to treat or prevent COVID-19. 

NAD initially referred this case to the FDA and FTC for review because the advertiser did not respond to NAD’s request to provide substantiation for its claims. However, following this referral, Vitamin Bounty subsequently returned to NAD and agreed to participate in the advertising self-regulatory forum. 

In its response to NAD, the advertiser voluntarily discontinued the social media post in question, as well as additional social media posts on Facebook, which made similar implied claims about the ability of Vitamin Bounty Elderberry Immune Support to boost immunity to treat COVID-19.  

NAD appreciates that advertiser’s permanent discontinuance of the challenged advertisements and its commitment to avoid making any express or implied claims that promote its product’s ability to protect consumers against COVID-19. 

In its advertiser’s statement, Vitamin Bounty stated that it “accepts NAD’s decision in its entirety and has discontinued the advertising in question.” 

### 

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

The 2000s Introduced the Internet and Influencers to Ad Law

The 2000s was a decade of change as online advertising exploded and, as a harbinger of things to come, the online environment became fertile ground for innovative ways to both communicate with consumers or, for the unscrupulous, take advantage of unwary consumers. The low barriers to entry allowed disrupters to enter the digital space and forced traditional marketers to compete in this space or be left behind.
Read more
Blog

What is Old is Green Again: Ad Law in the 90s

As we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of independent industry self-regulation in the advertising industry by looking at the impact of past decades on advertising law, this month we highlight the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Green Guides, first issued in 1992. The Green Guides were designed to respond to changes in consumer understanding and developments in environmental technology.
Read more
 

 

 

Decisions

Vitamin Bounty Voluntarily Discontinues Social Media Posts for Elderberry Immune Support Following NAD Inquiry into Implied COVID-19 Messages

For Immediate Release 
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs 

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org  

New York, NY – October 13, 2020 – Following an inquiry by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, Vitamin Bounty/Matherson Organics, LLC (“Vitamin Bounty”) discontinued Instagram and Facebook social media posts for its Vitamin Bounty Elderberry Immune Support, which conveyed implied messages about boosting immunity to protect users against, or treat, COVID-19. 

Through its routine monitoring program, NAD challenged Vitamin Bounty’s Instagram post for Elderberry Immune Support with the text:  

  • “[a]s restrictions are gradually lifting, it’s more important than ever to keep your immune system strong. Our Elderberry Immune Support keeps you protected with vitamin C, zinc, elderberries, garlic and echinacea; a powerful immune-boosting combo.” 


Health and safety concerns are a top priority for NAD’s monitoring efforts, with particular attention currently focused on advertising for dietary supplements and other products claiming to treat COVID-19. NAD noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have both stated that there are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent COVID-19. Both the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued dozens of warning letters to companies making claims about their products’ ability to treat or prevent COVID-19. 

NAD initially referred this case to the FDA and FTC for review because the advertiser did not respond to NAD’s request to provide substantiation for its claims. However, following this referral, Vitamin Bounty subsequently returned to NAD and agreed to participate in the advertising self-regulatory forum. 

In its response to NAD, the advertiser voluntarily discontinued the social media post in question, as well as additional social media posts on Facebook, which made similar implied claims about the ability of Vitamin Bounty Elderberry Immune Support to boost immunity to treat COVID-19.  

NAD appreciates that advertiser’s permanent discontinuance of the challenged advertisements and its commitment to avoid making any express or implied claims that promote its product’s ability to protect consumers against COVID-19. 

In its advertiser’s statement, Vitamin Bounty stated that it “accepts NAD’s decision in its entirety and has discontinued the advertising in question.” 

### 

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.     

 

 

 

Upcoming Events

NAD 2021 Annual Conference

Register for NAD 2021 to celebrate 50 years of advertising industry self-regulation and high standards of truth and accuracy in national advertising. Industry, government, agency, and legal profession ...
Learn more
Sep 29, 2021 Virtual

Cardozo Fashion Law Society & Cardozo FAME Center's It's Not Easy Being Green

Hal Hodes, Senior Attorney, National Advertising Division discusses FTC policies and compliance.
Learn more
Oct 04, 2021 Virtual

Veeva Global Summit

Eric Unis, Attorney, National Advertising Division, BBB National Programs joins the Managing Advertising Claims in a Digital and Social World panel
Learn more
Oct 21, 2021 Virtual

Institute for Perception's Current Topics in Sensory and Consumer Science

BBB National Programs Speaker Annie M. Urgurlayan, Assistant Director, National Advertising Division
Learn more
Oct 26, 2021 White Sulpher Springs
 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

 

Contact Us

*Required fields