Ad Watchers: When Are Advertisers Responsible for Consumer Ratings and Reviews?

In the increasingly digital landscape, the influence of word-of-mouth has gone viral. Before making a purchase, consumers frequently turn to a product or service's reviews and ratings. Since consumers trust what other consumers have to say, brands want to leverage these voices—but are they responsible for them? In this episode, Hal and La Toya explore endorsements and testimonials, as well as the broader category of the implementation of user-generated content in advertising. Listen in to learn about the lines between user-generated content versus testimonials versus endorsements.

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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 complimentary registration by emailing press@bbbnp.org.

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National Advertising Division Finds Claim that Almased Diet and Weight Loss Program is “So Safe that Even People with Diabetes Can Use It” Supported

New York, NY – September 16, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Almased USA, Inc.’s claim that its Almased Diet/Weight Loss Program is “. . . so safe that even people with diabetes can use it” was supported. During the proceeding, the advertiser permanently discontinued certain challenged claims, therefore NAD did not review these permanently discontinued claims on the merits. The claims at issue were challenged by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). 

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National Advertising Division Finds SlimFast “Energy For Hours” Claim Supported; Advertiser Appeals Recommendation to Discontinue “Clinically Proven” Claims

New York, NY – September 15, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that KSF Acquisition Corp. (SlimFast) provided a reasonable basis for its “energy for hours” claim for its SlimFast Food Products & Weight Loss Plans. However, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue certain "clinically proven" claims. The claims at issue, which appeared on the advertiser’s product labels, website, and app, were challenged by Simply Good Foods.

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    National Advertising Division Refers Advertising Claims for Gravity Defyer Shoes to Federal Trade Commission for Possible Enforcement Action

    New York, NY – September 14, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs is disappointed that Gravity Defyer Medical Technology Corporation declined to participate in the industry self-regulation process. As a result of the advertiser’s failure to participate, NAD has referred advertising claims for their Gravity Defyer shoes to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for review.

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    National Advertising Division Finds Verizon’s “America’s Most Awarded Network” Claim Supported; Recommends Certain Other Claims be Modified or Discontinued

    New York, NY – August 24, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) determined that the claim “America’s most awarded network” in Verizon Communications, Inc.’s “I’m a Verizon Engineer” commercial did not reasonably convey any unsupported messages about awards given to Verizon’s 5G network. However, NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue the claim “5G from America’s most reliable network” in the “Everyone Deserves the Best” commercial and several other challenged commercials or modify the claim to clarify that “most reliable” is not a specific reference to 5G. NAD also recommended modifications to the challenged portion of Verizon’s website. 

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    Ad Watchers: The Best Podcast Episode Ever: What is Puffery?

    When you hear a claim in an advertisement like, “best in the world,” you probably know that the product has not been measurably proven to actually be the best in the world. And that’s okay, because this is an example of puffery, an exaggerated, blustering, or boastful statement or general claim that could only be understood to be an expression of opinion, not a statement of fact. But where is the line between puffery and a claim that needs a reasonable basis? In this episode of Ad Watchers, hosts Hal Hodes and La Toya Sutton break down the questions they ask to determine whether or not a statement is puffery. Later in the episode, they are joined by their colleague Eric Unis to judge the Battle Royale of Puffery: each host presents cases that illustrate various types of this practice. Tune in to hear which of our hosts has the best examples of puffery in the universe!

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    National Advertising Division Finds SharkNinja’s NeverStick Cookware Brand Name Not Misleading, But Recommends “Never Sticks” Claims be Discontinued

    New York, NY – August 17, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that the name NeverStick, used for SharkNinja Operating, LLC’s non-stick cookware, was not false or misleading when used as a brand name standing alone. However, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue express and implied claims that its Foodi NeverStick cookware “never sticks,” such as “the NeverStick cookware that NEVER sticks, chips or flakes” and “grab the cookware that never sticks.” NAD also recommended that SharkNinja discontinue claims that NeverStick has a “lifetime guarantee.” The claims at issue were challenged by Sunbeam Products, Inc. 

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    Advertising Claims Discontinued for DAB Defense Against Bacteria Hand Sanitizer + Protectant Following National Advertising Division Challenge

    New York, NY – August 11, 2021 – Following a BBB National Programs National Advertising Division (NAD) challenge brought by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., the advertiser Three Kings Corporation permanently discontinued express and implied advertising claims from websites and social media regarding the effectiveness and duration of the antibacterial properties of its DAB Defense Against Bacteria Hand Sanitizer + Protectant.

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    National Advertising Division Finds Butterball’s Qualified “All Natural” Claims Supported; Recommends Certain Other Claims be Modified or Discontinued

    New York, NY – August 10, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Butterball, LLC provided a reasonable basis for several claims for its turkey products but recommended that others be modified or discontinued. The claims at issue were challenged by Animal Outlook (AO), a not-for-profit animal rights organization.

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    NAD Finds “Scientifically Formulated” Claim for Morning Recovery Dietary Supplement Supported; Recommends Modification of “80% Improvement” Claim

    New York, NY – July 27, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that More Labs, Inc.’s claim that its Morning Recovery dietary supplement is “scientifically formulated to help you bounce back after drinking” was supported. NAD recommended, however, that the advertiser modify the claim “users of Morning Recovery showed up to 80% improvement on specific hangover symptoms after drinking” to include the specific symptoms which achieved a near 80 percent improvement. The advertiser’s Morning Recovery dietary supplement is promoted to alleviate hangover symptoms if consumed prior to drinking alcohol. The claims at issue, which appeared in internet advertising, were challenged by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). 

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    Ad Watchers: How Do We Step into the Shoes of the Consumer?

    When you see an advertisement, you are likely taking in much more than just the words you are presented with. The visuals, sounds, and way the language is presented can all impact the implied messages that consumers take away. In general, advertisers are required to have a reasonable basis for all messages conveyed, whether express or implied – that’s the easy part. But figuring out what message(s) are conveyed in their advertising – and therefore what messages need to be substantiated – can be hard.

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    National Advertising Division Finds Claim that Kerasal Fungal Nail Renewal “Starts Improving Nail Appearance in Just 2 Days” Supported

    New York, NY – July 21, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) determined that Advantice provided a reasonable basis for the claim that its Kerasal Fungal Nail Renewal product “starts improving nail appearance in just 2 days.” The claim at issue, which appeared on product packaging and in internet advertising, was originally challenged by Arcadia Consumer Healthcare in 2020. After the decision, NAD was informed that the challenger violated the program's Policies and Procedures. NAD closed the case and reopened it through NAD’s monitoring program. The advertiser appealed the decision, withdrew its appeal, agreed to comply with NAD’s recommendations, and then petitioned to reopen the matter with new evidence.

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    National Advertising Division Finds Safe Catch Tuna Mercury Testing Claims Supported; Recommends Modification or Discontinuance of Certain Other Claims

    New York, NY – July 20, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) determined that Safe Catch, Inc., a manufacturer of pouched and canned tuna products sold under the brands Safe Catch Elite, Safe Catch Ahi Yellowfin Tuna, and Safe Catch Wild Albacore, provided a reasonable basis for several claims but recommended that others be modified or discontinued. The claims at issue were challenged by The National Fisheries Institute (NFI), a non-profit trade association that operates, among other councils, the Tuna Council which represents the largest processors and household names for canned and pouched tuna in the United States.

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    In Two Fast-Track SWIFT Cases, One Voluntary Discontinuance of Claims, and One National Advertising Division Recommendation to Discontinue Claims

    New York, NY – July 13, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs closed two new Fast-Track SWIFT cases in June. Function challenged PerSe Beauty’s “over 192,000 5-star product reviews” claim nd Nestle Nutrition challenged Reckitt Benckiser’s exclusivity claims about the ingredients of the Enfamil brand’s Nutramigen line of infant formula products. Fast-Track SWIFT is an expedited NAD process designed for single-issue advertising cases.

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    National Advertising Division Recommends AT&T Modify Certain Claims Comparing its Fiber-Optic Internet Services Upload Speed to Cable; Advertiser to Appeal

    New York, NY – June 30, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that, in connection with comparative advertising for its fiber-optic internet service, AT&T Services modify the express claim that all cable upload speeds are slow and the implied claim that Comcast’s internet is unreliable to avoid conveying the messages that cable users are unable to video chat, upload large files, expand their businesses, or sell their homes. NAD further recommended that AT&T modify its “better internet” and “faster internet experience” claims to avoid conveying unsupported messages. AT&T will appeal NAD’s recommendation to modify these claims.

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    NAD Recommends Modification of “#1 Derm-Trusted Suncare” Claim for Neutrogena; JJCI Appeals Recommendation to Discontinue Other Claim

    New York, NY – June 30, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs did not take issue with support provided for Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc.’s  claim that its Neutrogena brand provides “#1 Derm-Trusted Suncare.” NAD, recommended, however, that JJCI modify its use of the claim in conjunction with the phrase “used most often for themselves and their own families” to avoid misleading consumer takeaways. NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue several "#1 Dermatologist Recommended" claims.

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    National Advertising Division Refers TikTok Influencer Advertising for Coldest Water Bottle to Federal Trade Commission for Further Review

    New York, NY – June 29, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs has referred advertising claims made by The Coldest Water, LLC to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for review. Through its ad monitoring program, NAD inquired about numerous TikTok videos by influencers featuring the reusable, insulated Coldest Water bottle. The advertiser did not respond to NAD’s request to provide support for its claims.

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    National Advertising Division Recommends Life Renew Discontinue Certain Claims for its NerveRenew Dietary Supplement

    New York, NY – June 29, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Neuropathy Treatment Group, d/b/a Life Renew, discontinue the following claims for its NerveRenew dietary supplement: “100% Stabilized R-Alpha Lipoic Acid (R-ALA) is our most important ingredient," “It contains the most powerful and clinically studied forms of B vitamins, Stabilized R Alpha Lipoic Acid, anti-oxidants and herbal extracts. All the ingredients have been included in clinical studies and provide a synergistic effect when taken together," and “3X Greater Bioavailability." The claims at issue were challenged by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

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    National Advertising Division Recommends Audien, LLC Discontinue “Tinnitus Management” and Comparative Pricing Claims for its Rechargeable Hearing Aids

    New York, NY – June 24, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Audien, LLC discontinue the following claims for its rechargeable hearing aid: “Rechargeable Hearing Aids for $89/pair*”, “Similar technology to $5000 hearing aids", and “Can be used for Tinnitus management.” These claims, which appeared in internet advertising, were challenged by NAD as part of the independent non-profit organization’s routine monitoring program.

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    Case

    Case #46-2021: –Monitoring Inquiry– Root Wellness, LLC

    The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) is a national advertising self-regulation program administered by BBB National Programs. This inquiry was commenced by DSSRC pursuant to its ongoing independent monitoring of advertising and marketing claims in the direct selling industry. 

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    Decision

    Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council Recommends RootWellness Discontinue Certain Health-Related Product Performance Claims

    McLean, VA – September 23, 2021 – The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) recommended that certain product performance claims made by Root Wellness, LLC, a direct selling company that markets and distributes health and wellness nutritional supplement products, and its salesforce be...

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    Closure

    DSSRC Administrative Closure #198

    The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (“DSSRC”) contacted a direct selling company (the “Company”) regarding three social media posts that DSSRC was concerned communicated the message that the Company’s products are effective as a weight-loss supplement and in treating several serious health-related conditions including, but not limited to, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. The posts were identified by...
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    Closure

    DSSRC Administrative Closure #197

    The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (“DSSRC”) contacted a direct selling company (the “Company”) regarding six social media posts disseminated by salesforce members. DSSRC was concerned that the posts communicated inappropriate earnings claims to consumers and potential salesforce members including representations of financial freedom and monthly income ranging from $500 to $1,000 a month.
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