Division pokes at the underlying studies
You can’t stop the hard-boiled gumshoes over at the National Advertising Division (NAD). Sometimes, seemingly at their mere approach, advertisers surrender – consider the case of Weighting Comforts, which sells weighted blankets that are touted as addressing anxiety and sleeplessness in kids and adults. When NAD came knocking with a review of Weighting’s advertising claims, the company promptly informed NAD that it was discontinuing several of the challenged claims, making further review moot, right?
Hold It Right There
Not so fast. We’re talking about NAD, my friends, and they don’t call it quits. Its review included the claims that were already discontinued.
The company’s claims included several boasts about the sleep-inducing, anxiety-proofing benefits of weighted blankets, such as “Our blankets are designed for you if you’re battling symptoms of Anxiety, Insomnia, PTSD, Restless Leg and Depression,” and “Weighted blankets have been proven to increase serotonin and melatonin in your body, which helps you relax, feel calmer, and fall asleep much easier.” These claims, in turn, rested on two studies that Weighted furnished to the NAD.
One of the studies, which the sleep claims were based on, actually passed muster. NAD had some doubts about the methodology – the tests were limited to individuals with chronic insomnia – but in the end gave the study its blessing. The problem, however, was that the claims based on this study were quite general; NAD suggested that “our weighted blankets help you sleep better” should be cut back to state that “the weighted blankets may improve sleep quality.”
The other study, which underlay the company’s anti-anxiety claims, didn’t fare so well. The study was carried out on subjects who had little or no anxiety and were tested only for five-minute intervals, among other flaws. NAD recommended that the claims be discontinued but concluded with this uncharacteristically cozy thought: “Nothing in the record prevents the advertiser from touting that its blankets provide users a sense of security.”
Which just proves that despite their gruff exterior, NAD investigators have a heart of gold.