As part of its routine monitoring program, NAD – the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum – requested substantiation for certain claims made in television, packaging, and Website advertising by Bayer HealthCare for its Vital & Sharp Mind dietary supplement. The following claims served as a basis for NAD’s inquiry:
•“Remember their names? If not, try new Vital & Sharp Mind from Bayer Nutritional Science”
•“It supports memory, mental sharpness and healthy brain function.”
• The claim that consumers who take Vital & Sharp Mind will improve their immediate recall and short term memory
• Helps to “Maximize Your Vitality”
• “Help Promote Memory, Concentration, and Mental Sharpness”
• “help keep your mind vital and active.”
• “contains Omega-3 (DHA) to support healthy brain function, B vitamins to support mental energy, and Ginkgo to help promote mental sharpness, memory, and concentration.”
At the outset, the advertiser noted that a key ingredient of the product, ginkgo biloba, promotes memory, concentration, and mental acuity and presented several studies conducted on the use of ginkgo biloba extract for memory and concentration, in both Alzheimer’s patients and healthy aging populations. The advertiser also presented evidence related to Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and brain function and B vitamins and mental energy.
Following its review of the studies entered into the record and the information provided by the advertiser, NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for a general claim that Vital & Sharp Mind “supports memory, mental sharpness, and healthy brain function.” NAD also determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its claims that the product helps to “Maximize Your Vitality,” “[p]romote Memory, Concentration, and Mental Sharpness,” and “keep your mind vital and active.” Further, NAD found that the advertiser supported its claim that the product “contains Omega-3 (DHA) to support healthy brain function.”
NAD determined, however, that the evidence in the record did not support the television commercial’s claim that Vital & Sharp Mind can assist healthy adults in recalling a list of items that was recited moments earlier. The claim, NAD noted, suggests that the product—beyond being generally supportive of memory—can actually assist healthy adults in recalling a list of names that was recited moments earlier. Such performance claims require a different, and more exacting, level of support as compared with a claim that the product “supports” memory, NAD determined.
NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim and avoid making similar claims in future advertising for the product. Finally, NAD determined that the advertiser’s evidence was not sufficient to support its claim that B vitamins “support mental energy.” NAD therefore recommended that the B vitamins claim be either discontinued or modified by limiting the claim to the B vitamins’ role in the metabolic process.
The company, in its advertiser’s statement, took issue with NAD’s decision, noting that it disagrees with NAD's characterization and analysis of the evidence on ginkgo biloba and memory as illustrated by the television ad.
In addition, the company contended that NAD erred in its evaluation of evidence related to B vitamins and mental energy.
The company noted, however, that the advertising at issue has completed its run and that the company will “take NAD's concerns into account in any future advertising for this product.”