The National Advertising Division (NAD) recently recommended that certain claims on the packaging of Vogue International, Inc.’s (Vogue) Proganix line of hair care products be discontinued. The product packaging listed the natural or exotic ingredients in a formula, connected by “+” signs and followed by an “=” sign, after which several benefits are listed (e.g., strength, repair split ends, etc.). 

The National Advertising Division (NAD) recently recommended that certain claims on the packaging of Vogue International, Inc.’s (Vogue) Proganix line of hair care products be discontinued. The product packaging listed the natural or exotic ingredients in a formula, connected by “+” signs and followed by an “=” sign, after which several benefits are listed (e.g., strength, repair split ends, etc.). The advertiser argued that these statements were puffery because the statements included were in the form of a mathematical equation. The NAD disagreed and reasoned that the “equation” statements reasonably convey that the listed ingredients are directly related to the advertised benefit and thus are performance claims that require support. Because Vogue did not substantiate that the specific ingredients were directly related to the advertised benefits, the NAD recommend that Vogue discontinue these claims. 

However, the NAD concluded that certain other non-specific “formula” statements on the product packaging – “Science + Nature = Performance” and “Science + Nature = Salon Performance” – are puffery. The challenger argued that such formulas conveyed that the natural ingredients in the product were responsible for the product’s performance. The NAD disagreed, reasoning that the statements were vague and did not suggest a measurable claim that required substantiation. The NAD further explained that the packaging did not contain enough context to objectively determine what “science + nature” means or how the equation may influence the product’s performance. Thus, the NAD found that such formulaic claims were puffery and did not require substantiation. 

Tip: Advertisers must be able to substantiate objective product claims, including that a particular ingredient is directly related to a product benefit. This decision also illustrates the fine line between making an objective claim that requires substantiation and puffery, which can often turn on the context of the specificity of the statement and the context of the advertising.