After an National Advertising Division (NAD) inquiry, Mars Incorporated recently agreed to modify or permanently discontinue certain advertising claims regarding the cardiovascular benefits provided by its CocoaVia Cocoa Extract dietary supplement. Mars had claimed that the cocoa flavanols in its CocoaVia product were “scientifically proven to promote a healthy heart by supporting healthy blood flow, helping firefighters, or anyone, maintain who they are for years to come.” NAD determined this was an establishment claim—or “a promise that there is scientific proof that establishes [its] veracity”—but noted certain issues with the supporting evidence that Mars provided, including small sample sizes or unrepresentative sample populations. NAD recommended the claim be modified to better reflect Mars’ supporting studies, which NAD concluded only “indicate” (rather than “prove”) that cocoa flavanols promote a healthy heart by supporting healthy blood flow.
Tip: The nature and extent of performance and efficacy claims in advertising should reflect the depth and nature of the underlying research that substantiates the claims. When dealing with emerging science, advertisers should use caution when making claims about the efficacy of the product, and advertising claims should reflect the limited or preliminary nature of the substantiation.