Cochlear Americas falls prey to ground-floor mistake

Simple Pitch?

Cochlear Americas, a designer, manufacturer and supplier of ‒ you guessed it ‒ cochlear implants, caught the National Advertising Division’s (NAD) attention with its “Ask the Expert” ad campaign, which appeared in the AARP Bulletin’s October 2018 issue.

As far as content goes, the ad seemed to be bland ‒ a cochlear implant surgeon offers details about how cochlear implants function and why they’re great. So far, so good.

The Takeaway

But Cochlear Americas made the “gateway” mistake that triggers NAD review ‒ it failed to indicate that the advertising was, well, advertising. The “Ask the Expert” piece blended into the editorial content that surrounded it, and while that’s a great way to build trust in advertising claims, it also encourages consumers to make uninformed choices.

But NAD is merciful and merely wagged its finger at Cochlear while declining to dig into the actual claims made in the ad, or the actual expertise of the cited authority.

“Relying on Cochlear’s representation that all future ‘Ask the Expert’ print advertisements will have an ‘ADVERTISEMENT’ banner when sent to the publisher,” the division announced, “NAD did not review the advertising on its merits.”

Label an expert ad for what it is ‒ it’s a simple rule. Save yourself the headache and follow it. We recommend the FTC’s enforcement policy statement and corresponding guidance for business on native advertising available here.