NARB ProgramBackgrounds

National Advertising Review Board

The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) is the advertising self-regulation industry’s appellate body. Five-member NARB panels hear cases appealing an NAD or CARU decision and provide independent industry peer review, ensuring truthfulness and accuracy in national advertising and helping promote voluntary compliance of its decisions—a key pillar of industry self-regulation.  

Program Impact

NARB, established in 1971 as a fair and impartial appellate body, reviews appealed NAD or CARU decisions. Nominated by various leading organizations in the advertising industry, NARB members are selected for their stature and experience in their fields. 

 

 

Truth & Transparency

When a competitor’s advertising harms consumer trust or threatens a company’s reputation and market share, the advertising self-regulatory system creates a level-playing field for business and helps ensure consumers receive truthful and accurate advertising.

Compliance

After a decision, NARB or the challenger can check in on whether the advertiser has made appropriate modifications to its advertising and has 10 days to respond. The case is closed if there is a good faith effort to bring their advertising into compliance.

Non-Compliance

In cases of lack of good faith efforts to modify or discontinue advertising as a result of a NARB decision, NARB will refer the case to an appropriate government agency, usually the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
 

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.

 

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Guidelines & Procedures


Any advertiser or challenger has the right to appeal NAD’s decision to NARB.  An advertiser has an automatic right of appeal. A challenger must request permission to appeal from the NARB chair and explain why it believes there is a substantial likelihood NARB would come to a different conclusion on a case than NAD. 

 

News & Blog

Press Release

Media Advisory: FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter to Keynote National Advertising Division “Future of Ad Law” 2021 Annual Conference

New York, NY – September 21, 2021 – In its 50th anniversary year, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs will host the NAD 2021 Annual Conference virtually next week, running Wednesday, September 29 through Friday, October 1. Members of the media are invited to cover NAD 2021 with...

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Press Release

BBB National Programs Announces 85 Distinguished Members of 2021 National Advertising Review Board Panel

McLean, VA – January 5, 2021 – BBB National Programs today announced the 2021 Panel Pool Members for its National Advertising Review Board, the appellate body for the U.S. advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. The National Advertising Review Board panel pool members, selected for their stature and experience in their fields,...
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The 2000s Introduced the Internet and Influencers to Ad Law

Sep 16, 2021, 09:00 AM by Katherine Armstrong, Deputy Director, National Advertising Division, BBB National Programs
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.

The arrival of Y2K brought with it not only the panic that the internet would freeze because of the new digits marking the start of a new century but also the pivot from traditional advertising (radio/tv/print) to online advertising.

To be sure, 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.  

During this decade, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) added to the Commission-issued policy statements that were the hallmark of the 1970s and 1980s and published important business guidance documents that described how general principles of advertising law apply to issues arising in digital advertising, as well as industry-specific guidance on advertising claim substantiation. 

In 2000, the FTC published Advertising on the Internet: The Rules of the Road as well as Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising, which provided extensive guidance on how to make effective disclosures in the online environment and was updated in 2013 to reflect new trends in advertising and marketing on new platforms, particularly mobile devices. Unlike formal industry guides issued after public notice and comment, Dot Com Disclosures was released as informal business guidance that has proven to be a nimble and instrumental tool laying out rules of the road.  

Without specific laws addressing online advertising, the FTC and the National Advertising Division (NAD) used the general principles of advertising law to protect consumers and provide a level playing field for businesses.  

It was also during this time that privacy and advertising law began to intersect. The online environment became fertile ground both for innovative ways to communicate with consumers but also for the large-scale collection of vast amounts of data from consumers as they surfed the Internet.

Reflecting its concern about the practices of website operators and marketers collecting information directly from children, Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and in 2000, the FTC rule implementing COPPA went into effect. COPPA regulates the online collection of personal information from children under 13, including requiring verifiable parental consent to the collection of such data. 

Privacy issues caused several reputable companies to stumble. For example, one of the FTC’s first privacy enforcement actions involved pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and its monthly email reminders to Prozac customers alerting them that it was time to renew their prescription. Lilly decided to terminate this monthly email reminder and sent an email to all the subscribers alerting them to this change. Because of a coding error, the “To” line was not blinded and all the recipients of the email could view the email addresses of all the subscribers. The FTC determined that this inadvertent coding error violated the FTC Act because Lilly had represented in its privacy policy that it would “protect” its consumers’ personal information.  The FTC determined that the claims in public-facing statements, such as privacy policies, must be truthful, not misleading, and substantiated, just like any advertising claim.   

Another FTC enforcement action was against the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA), a student survey company. The FTC reviewed express statements in the company’s privacy policy, an action that foreshadowed the FTC’s focus on what is now referred to as “dark patterns.” The FTC found that NRCCUA misrepresented that the survey data it collected would only be shared with colleges and universities, when in fact it was sold to advertisers who then marketed their products and services to the students.  

The 2000’s demonstrated the value that self-regulation provides to the advertising industry. NAD decisions during the early 2000s focused on new ways that advertising was used to mislead consumers, also foreshadowing the “dark patterns” that are the focus of current regulatory scrutiny. NAD’s first actions involving online advertising came not from competitor challenges but through its monitoring efforts, as it identified trends in advertising and provided guidance to the industry.  

NAD’s decisions provided guidance on clear and conspicuous disclosures in the new format of banner ads and, relying heavily on FTC guidance and general principles of advertising law, provided updated examples of how to advertise in emerging and new formats, guiding the industry on best practices. 

One of NAD’s earliest monitoring cases in this online environment was of a banner ad dark pattern. In 2005, NAD reviewed advertising promoting spyware services in banner ads that appeared to be a Microsoft Windows warning message. NAD recommended that the ads be modified to clearly and conspicuously disclose that the message was an ad, rather than a technical warning.   

The FTC closed the decade, in 2009, with amended Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which reflected basic truth-in-advertising principles that endorsements must be honest and not misleading and that a material connection between an endorser and a marketer that consumers would not expect must be disclosed, updated to include examples applying the principles to social media marketing. 

 

 

 

Decisions

Decision

National Advertising Review Board Finds Certain AT&T Comparative Advertising Claims Supported; Recommends Discontinuation or Modification of Others

New York, NY – October 14, 2021 – The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has determined that AT&T Services, Inc. properly supported certain comparative advertising claims for its fiber-optic internet service in one commercial and one internet video advertisement. However, it...

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Decision

National Advertising Review Board Recommends Colgate Discontinue “Removes 10 Years of Yellow Stains” Claim for Optic White Renewal Toothpaste

New York, NY – June 17, 2021 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising law body of BBB National Programs, has recommended that Colgate-Palmolive Company discontinue the claim that Optic White Renewal Toothpaste “removes 10 years of yellow stains” based...

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Decision

National Advertising Division Finds Certain Verizon 5G Claims Supported; Recommends Modification or Discontinuation of Others

New York, NY – October 19, 2021 – In the first National Advertising Division (NAD) Complex Track case, NAD determined that certain comparative performance claims for Verizon Wireless, Inc.’s 5G wireless service are supported or are non-actionable puffery. 
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Decision

ChromaDex, Inc. Discontinues Advertising Claims for Tru Niagen Dietary Supplement Following National Advertising Division Challenge

New York, NY – October 5, 2021 – Following a National Advertising Division (NAD) challenge, brought as part of NAD’s routine monitoring of national advertising for truth and transparency, the advertiser ChromaDex, Inc. permanently discontinued advertising claims regarding the performance benefits of its...

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