The National Advertising Division (NAD) found that Reckitt Benckiser, an advertiser of shoe-insoles, failed to support some of its “improved comfort” claims, while finding that other statements about comfort were puffery that did not require support.

Reckitt Benckiser advertised that its shoe insoles provided increased comfort for consumers wearing high heel shoes. In support of its claim, Reckitt Benckiser provided the results of both a technical test and a consumer use test. Specifically, the advertiser used the technical test to show that its insoles provided greater cushioning, which studies have shown help offset the pressure that the foot experiences in high heel shoes. The advertiser also provided a consumer use test, which the NAD concluded had several methodical flaws and contained a troubling amount of assessments that the insoles were “uncomfortable” or “painful.” The NAD found that the objective, technical testing that the advertiser used to support its claims were insufficient, explaining that such objective testing is not a “good fit” to assess the inherently subjective nature of foot comfort that the claims conveyed. Instead, the NAD identified that a consumer use test, one where consumers use the product and report back about its comfort, is the best test methodology to assess whether the product in fact improved foot comfort as the claims suggested. Because the advertiser failed to adequately support these claims, the NAD recommended discontinuing them.

Reckitt Benckiser’s ads also touted the effects of its insoles by using a dramatization where a heel transforms into a sneaker and the statement: “Turn your heels into sneakers.” The NAD deemed the visual and statements to be non-actionable puffery, finding that the high heel transforming into a sneaker was not an attribute of the product that was objectively provable such that substantiation was required even though such claims conveyed that the insoles are comfortable.

TIP: Advertisers should ensure that they have sufficient support that corresponds with the type of claim made.