Ronzoni owner prevails in dispute over “unsupported” ad tag
When last we left Goya Foods and its rival and 800-pound pasta gorilla Riviana Foods (manufacturer of Ronzoni pastas), the branding titans were locked in a struggle over who had bragging rights to prominence in the Puerto Rico marketplace. Goya had taken to using the tag “La pasta favorita de Puerto Rico” (“Puerto Rico’s favorite pasta”) for its Excelsior pasta brand, and that rubbed Riviana the wrong way.
As we explained back in April 2019, the relatively modest size of Puerto Rico gives the lie to its cultural and economic influence: The Puerto Rican diaspora is the second-largest Hispanic community in the United States, and as such accounts for serious market share. As a result, Riviana wasn’t going to allow Goya to claim the moniker “Puerto Rico’s favorite” without a fight.
It’s a fight that Riviana gave Goya by putting this issue before the National Advertising Division (NAD). In our last report, we outlined how NAD rejected Goya’s claim that its tag was “classic puffery.” Crucially, NAD rejected its argument that “fanciful” language surrounding the tag undercut the need to justify the claim through objective measures.
NAD sided with Riviana and recommended that Goya spike the claim because it offered no data to support it. Goya, feeling ornery, decided to appeal the ruling to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), which ruled in October 2019 that the tag was “an objective preference claim that requires substantiation.”
Of interest: It’s impossible to know for sure, but from NARB’s press release, it seems that part of Goya’s argument was a claim that the Spanish term favorita carried a different meaning than the English favorite:
“With respect to dictionary definitions,” NARB wrote, “the panel concluded that the Spanish definition offered by the advertiser is consistent with the English definitions cited by the challenger – they all show that ‘favorite’ conveys a message of preference.”
And there’s the central message: No matter what language you write it in, “favorite” is an objective claim that needs support. Goya says that although it is disappointed in the result, “It will comply with the ruling and discontinue the use of ‘La pasta favorita de Puerto Rico’ in connection with Goya’s EXCELSIOR-brand pasta.”