Rival Riviana says Goya needs to give up “favorite” tags on the island

Coquí Claims?

Riviana Foods, maker of the iconic Ronzoni brand, isn’t giving up the island of Puerto Rico without a fight.

Riviana took rival pasta maker Goya Foods to task before the National Advertising Division (NAD) for allegedly staking an unsubstantiated claim to the affections of Puerto Ricans. Goya had used the advertising tag “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta” for its Excelsior brand pasta in various marketing outlets, and that did not sit well with Riviana.

The discomfort makes sense – Puerto Rico is a distinct economy that boasts a significant and widespread diaspora in the mainland United States, the second-largest Hispanic community in the country. It’s an attractive market for anyone who can build loyalty.

The Takeaway

Goya Foods argued that the “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta” tag is “classic puffery” – subjective advertising that nobody in their right mind would take literally. As proof, the company cited the “vague and fanciful language” that accompanies the tag.

The NAD sided with Riviana, arguing that “the advertising reasonably conveys a message that Excelsior is preferred to all other pasta brands in Puerto Rico,” and that such a claim was measurable and therefore required substantiation.

For anyone considering using similar claims and hoping to have them deemed mere puffery, it’s important to note that the NAD disregarded the additional subjective language that accompanied the main tag when drawing its conclusions. Just because a claim is surrounded by legitimate puffery doesn’t mean it is puffery.

The NAD asked Goya to put an end to the claim, but Goya is holding out on appeal. We’re not given much detail about its counterarguments, but according to the NAD, Goya maintains that its findings are “at odds with federal court precedent.” It will be interesting to see what precedent Goya will cite and how this case will ultimately conclude.