The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau (NAD) recently reviewed certain claims by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. (JJVC) comparing its contact lens product to Alcon Laboratories, Inc.’s contact lens product. In an advertisement directed to eye-care professionals, JJVC claimed (among other things) that “4.3x as many patients who tried [Alcon] Dailies Total1 in a clinical study agreed the lens ‘felt stuck to my eye.’” JJVC submitted results from a clinical study in support of this claim.

In the study, participants were asked to wear each company’s contact lenses for one week. At the end of the study, participants were asked to answer a number of questions about their experience. The NAD had no issue with the study’s methodology and was satisfied that all pertinent criteria were observed (i.e. the study was double blinded, randomized, bilateral, and designed with a sufficient number of subjects). However, the NAD noted that it was concerned with the use of a leading closed-ended question in the questionnaire that asked if participants agreed with the statement, “When I removed the study contact lenses, they felt stuck to my eye.” Although participants were able to answer “neither agree nor disagree,” the NAD found that the leading closed-ended question and suggestion of the “stuck to my eye” language undermined the reliability of the results. The NAD therefore recommended the claim be discontinued.

Tip: When conducting a clinical study to support a claim, it is important for advertisers to use caution when drafting survey questions so as to avoid asking leading questions.