Following a challenge by Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. (J&J) at the National Advertising Division (NAD), the NAD recommended that Mommy Bliss, Inc. (Mommy Bliss) discontinue all performance, speed of action, pediatrician-recommended, and novelty claims for its Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water product. Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water is a natural supplement that aides in digestion, stomach troubles, and general baby fussiness. Some of the challenged claims placed on the product included “Works quickly,” “Fast acting-works in minutes,” “Pediatrician Recommended,” “Recommended by Pediatricians Nationwide,” and “Very First in the U.S.”
Mommy Bliss submitted anecdotal support for its speed of action claims in the form of consumer emails, Amazon.com reviews, and social media commentary. However, the NAD stated that such evidence was insufficient support for product performance claims unless there was a showing that the such individual consumers were representative of the general experience of consumers with the product. In addition, the NAD also noted that the FTC provides clear guidance on this topic stating that “consumer endorsements themselves are not competent and reliable scientific evidence.”
With regard to the “Very First in the U.S.” claim, Mommy Bliss provided sales data, the trademark registration, and summarized search results from the U.S. PTO database in support. The NAD however found that the sales data was not a good fit for the claim because it was too specific, because it related to only a particular type of gripe water. As for the trademark registration, and summarized search results from the U.S. PTO database, the NAD found such evidence insufficiently reliable to support the “Very First in the U.S.” claim.
Lastly, in relation to the “Pediatrician Recommended” and “Recommended by Pediatricians Nationwide” claims, the NAD noted that such claims need to be supported by well conducted physician surveys where doctors provide information on what they actually recommend in their daily practice. Here however, no such survey evidence was provided, and accordingly, the NAD recommended the discontinuation of the pediatrician-recommended claims as well.
Had Mommy Bliss hired a survey expert to conduct a consumer survey to support the speed of action and pediatrician-recommended claims, there is a possibility that the NAD would not have recommended the discontinuation of such claims. To learn more about claim substantiation or false advertising surveys, and how they can be submitted and accepted as evidence at the NAD, please contact us.